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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

9 Ways to Raise a Happy, Independent Child

Photo by Paul L Dineen (Flickr)

It seems like a minute ago when my girls needed me for everything. Now, they're fairly independent. I'm glad for that because I want them to be successful adults. Your kids can also become happy and independent now and in the future when you implement these nine tips.

Encourage Independent Choices

I know it's scary to give our kids control over their own lives, but they're smart. And anyway, what's the big deal if they wear mismatched socks or want to play soccer and not basketball? By encouraging our kids to make their own independent choices in small areas while we can still guide them, we equip them with the decision-making skills they need to make bigger choices as they get older.

Allow Consequences

Most parents don't enjoy watching their children suffer consequences. I know it's hard for me when one of my girls misses a play date because she goofed around instead of doing homework. Consequences are part of life, though. By allowing our kids to experience the good and bad consequences of their decisions, we help them make better decisions.

Allow Reasonably Risky Play

I certainly don't advocate for letting kids play in the street or skateboard without a helmet. However, reasonably risky play does improve independence and development. Challenges build a child's self-esteem and empower them since they know that you trust them enough to explore.

Master One Independent Task at a Time

I remember teaching my girls to brush their teeth. I didn't lead them to the bathroom and tell them to have at it. I first taught them to put the toothpaste on the brush by themselves. Once they perfected that task, they learned to brush by themselves. The same idea applies to teaching independence. Take baby steps and allow your kids to master one independent task at a time so that their confidence and desire for even more independence grows.

Praise Independent Efforts

Kids won't get every task right the first time they try it, and that's OK. Praise your child for at least trying to put their shoes on even if they're on the wrong feet. By resisting the temptation to criticize or nitpick, you encourage your kids to keep trying.

Encourage Debates

I have to confess that I don't like when my kids argue with me. Debate can be healthy, though, as we teach our kids to be independent and critical thinkers. That's why I allow my kids to express their opinions. They know that they're free to share different opinions on rules, plans, and other family life details. As the parent, I get the final say, but I encourage debate along the way.

Nurture Their Unique Talents

Every child has unique talents, abilities, and gifts. We encourage our kids to be happy and independent when we nurture their talents and uniqueness.

Let Them Make Their Own Friends

When my girls were little, I set up play dates and essentially chose their friends. That all changed when they started school. I've got to admit that I don't always like their friendship choices, but I can't micromanage. I do keep the lines of communication open, though, and try to create an open home where everyone's invited, and I'm available when my girls need to talk about friendship stuff.

Encourage Exploration

I kept my girls on a short leash when they were young. Now that they're older, they have more freedom to explore the world, their likes and dislikes, and their interests. They gain independence, grow their competence, and become more secure because I encourage them to explore.

Kids need to learn independence as they grow to become happy and successful adults. These nine tips help me raise happy, independent girls. What tips do you use to raise independent kids?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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