What is Independence in Children
Independence is defined as possessing freedom from outside control and instead having the ability rely on oneself.
As our children grow up, it is our job as parents to make certain that they are equipped with the necessary tools to lead a happy and satisfactory life. Independence is a huge part of that. Those of us who bear the unmistakable cloak of independence display undeniable courage, sheer strength, and deep intelligence.
Independence teaches hard lessons and hands out a dose of satisfying accomplishments.
Through independence, we are able to learn, grow, and deepen our souls. We are able to teach and provide for the future. We are able to truly be ourselves, through and through. Teaching it, will ensure that our kids will go forth knowing their worth, their strength, and not be swayed by pressures of todays society.
All that said, a little voice inside me whispers, “Nooooo, never let her go!!!” You too? Welcome to the boat. 🙂 Okay, where were we? Oh right — independence. Here we go…
- Intrinsically motivated because they are allowed to find their own reasons to achieve.
- Were given the opportunity and guidance to explore achievement activities of their own choosing.
- Parents use extrinsic rewards appropriately and sparingly.
- Collaborative rather than a controlled relationship with their parents in which the children’s ideas and wishes are solicited and considered.
- Good decision makers because they were allowed to consider various options and, with the support and guidance of their parents, make their own decisions.
Why Independence is Important
Benefits for life!
Independent people tend to be more confident, simply because they are prepared to do things without waiting for permission from or the support of someone else. There is no greater feeling of knowing you’ve accomplished something on your own. With each new accomplishment, kids revel in their abilities thus building a momentum of trying new things with a little caution and a little fear. This, my friends, is confidence.
As you watch your kids, you look for cues of struggle. By giving them the chance to observe the problem at hand from all sides and angles, you express a confidence in your kids. Your sideline position allows for independent experimentation with problem solving all the while knowing that you’re ready to step in as soon as they are ready to lean on you.
When you have kids who are confident in their abilities they are equally empowered to feel like their own person. Like their opinions matter. Like they can take on a tough task if they choose to. They will embrace their uniqueness and learn that they have ability to bring forth change in their lives.
By allowing your kids to play and learn independently, you give them the ability to stand alone on two feet and to learn when they need to ask for guidance or comradery. Accomplishing a task independently shows your kids that there is value in trying and doing things on your own. While it’s okay to ask for help, it shows that they too, have the necessary skills to problem solve with patience and grit.
Resilience & Strength.
Teaching your kids independence calls for stepping out of their way and simply observe their movement throughout their world. Independence nurtures strength by allowing for some thought process, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Often times they fail. But trust in that they are strong willed and with your quiet strength and support, they will try again. And again.
This builds resilience and brute fight for a desired outcome no matter the obstacles. This allows for a taste of failure in a controlled environment so they are able to process that failure isn’t the end of the world it’s just a signal to try something else.
It will pave the way to making good decisions with controlled steps of repeating the process as it’s applied to various situations in life. Good decision skills go hand in hand with independence. After all, you can’t be independent if you’re indecisive.
You can be anyone you want to be once you’re self-reliant and can take care of yourself BY yourself. Once you love yourself and prove to people that you’re strong, then you can be a good friend, family member, and/or significant other to someone else.
Greater Emotional Independence.
This equates to less disappointment and suffering, since you’re not depending on other people to meet your emotional needs. Although social support is necessary, it’s different from emotional dependence. You can value other peoples’ company without being emotionally dependent.
Ways to Encourage Independence
Be patient, this is going to take some time. It might take 2 hours to eat instead of your typical half hour. Getting dressed may take all afternoon. But this all-too-important lesson in your kids lives is worth it. We all get frustrated when schedules get snagged but just remember – live in the moment. These are the times to live and savor. Who cares about a little oatmeal on the floor or mismatched socks. I found that simply giving yourselves 2 hours to eat will keep the stress of “getting things done” at bay.
Butt out! Let them do things on their own. These things can be a number of chores and activities around the house. Have them help you to fold laundry (even if that means they are unfolding it), clean up their toys (making it a game works wonders), use utensils to eat, pour themselves a glass of water, pick out their own clothes, dress themselves, wash their hands, brush their hair, sweeping the floor or porch, organize things (books, toys, snacks, pots, tupperware),
Encourage without interfering (too much). Once in a while, let them climb and explore even if its not the time or place for climbing. We love to tell kids ‘don’t do that’ or ‘get off that’ but really it’s silly. We should be encouraging them to live and explore and thrive. When your children have established their sense of security, you must then encourage them to explore the world beyond the safety net that you provide. This “push out of the nest” allows your children to test their own capabilities in the “real world” and to find a sense of competence, security, and independence within themselves.
Don’t over baby proof. This might seem strange advice but hang in there. Strategically leaving a kitchen cabinet with tupperware unlocked will satisfy your little ones exploration cravings and will reward them with the reward of finding ‘appropriate’ doors to open. Just make sure everything else is safely proofed… they will gain more independence and therefore search for more adventure and treasures.
Support creative thinking (thinking outside the box) to help them problem solve. It’s easy for us parents to swoop in and rescue our babies at the first sign of struggle. Don’t. Sit tight. See what happens. When you see a simple struggle, what you’re actually seeing is learning creativity. Nudge them toward a different way of thinking about the problem by giving subtle hints. Allow them the satisfaction of taking their ideas to the desired stage. Rescue only truly necessary.
Ask your kids for help. Nothing makes a kid feel important and useful as an adult that requires their kid-expertise. Keep the tasks simple. Ask them to help you pick something out. Ask them help you pick an outfit. Ask them to name your new puppy. Ask them to help you pick a movie to watch. Ask them to help you make dinner. Ask them to read you a book tonight. Ask them to brush your hair. It’ll build their confidence. It will also help solidify that all-important parent/child bond.
Opinions and reasons matter to kids. I mean, they don’t just pull them out of thin air, just to annoy us. They may be small but people non-the-less. They are people with opinions that matter, or should matter anyway. Taking the time to truly listen to what makes sense to them in their head will help your seedling to feel loved, heard, and cherished. Ask them about their day. Ask why they chose to wear those two distinctly different socks. Ask them what it felt like to hang out at the park. Ask them what the most interesting part of their day was. Ask who their favorite friend is and why. The questions are endless… and don’t forget to listen – that’s the most important part!
Acknowledge accomplishments. They’ve worked hard. They looked at the problem. They weighed out their options. They took action and got a desired result. Now it’s your turn mom (or dad)! Get in there! Tell them how proud you are of their success. Tell them why specifically!
Dr. Jim Taylor on Child Independence
Dr. Jim Taylor is an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of performance in business, sport, and parenting.
GPS Kid Trackers
Great for camping, shopping malls, theme parks and more!!![amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B00SYF29XO][amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B00YJZ9S14][amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B00HN02XEQ][amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B00YH2H3JS][amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B00MCINE88][amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B00AENQOZI][amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B007TW3QG2]
Independent Play & Activity Ideas
For me to be able to use them with my kids, independent activities need to be easy to set up, low on the messy scale, and adaptable. When I’m working on making dinner I don’t want to have to keep leaving the stove either, so I typically don’t use independent activity ideas that end with me scrubbing walls with a magic eraser or cleaning glue off the kitchen table.
Your Turn BAM Bees
Did you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed writing it? I hope so. I really hope you take a minute to comment below to share the love (or not so much). I am open to all opinions and suggestions. Also, I’d love to know how you’re instilling independence in your kids and whether you have any valuable tips to add. Let’s chat!
Einon, D. (n.d.). Helping your child to be independent – BabyCentre. Retrieved from http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a556439/helping-your-child-to-be-independent
Help your child become more independent | BabyCenter. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.babycenter.com/0_help-your-child-become-more-independent_11736.bc
The Importance of Teaching a Child to Become Independent | Smart Kids School Manila. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.smartkidsschool.com/item/2011/05/the-importance-of-teaching-a-child-to-become-independent
K. (2013, May 17). Toddler Approved!: Simple Independent Play Activities for Toddlers. Retrieved from http://www.toddlerapproved.com/2013/05/simple-independent-play-activities-for.html
Taylor, J. (2010, November 17). Parenting: Raise Independent Children | Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201011/parenting-raise-independent-children
Toozhy, M. (2015, February 27). Secrets to Raising Independent Children | Mehdi Toozhy. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mehdi-toozhy/secrets-to-raising-independent-children_b_6769952.html
Weaver, R. (n.d.). 5 Emotional Health Benefits of Being Independent – Article by … Retrieved from http://www.empowher.com/mental-health/content/5-emotional-health-benefits-being-independent
Together, they explore the topics of gentle parenting, healthy eating, grateful thinking, yoga bending, nifty hacking, green living, soul searching, and mindfulness practicing.
She has lived many lives. She has seen great beauty and utter darkness. It makes her whole. She is strong and with your presence, support, and love right here, right now ever stronger!!!
Read more about her by visiting the Meet the Bee page or email her right now!
We hope you enjoy the adventures of Chewy & Bossy!