Independence – What does it mean for our children?

As we celebrate the independence of our country on the 4th of July, we should also take a look at how important the word “independence” is to the emotional growth of our children.

There are so many aspects to look at when we are deciding how to help our children grow and develop. When it comes to independence we are often torn between wanting to coddle them and know that they need us one day, to wanting them to be independent and help us on the next day.

Since all growth is intertwined, it is important to realize that emotional growth is tied to all other areas of growth. Independence or emotional growth is often tied to overcoming fear.

Method 1: Modeling Independence

Show your child that you are independent. Share with them something that is difficult for you. Show them how you didn’t give up.

Method 2: Helping Independence Grow.

Pay attention as your children play and notice when they have figured something out on their own. Ask for their input on small tasks. Let them know their opinion matters. “Thank you for putting the silverware on the table. That really helps with our dinner.” Be sure that the child is responsible for their own stuff. If they can get it out to play with it, they can put it back.

Method 3: Providing and Loosening Boundaries.

Encourage your child to play by themselves. Bring out a toy that’s not always used and let them enjoy it all by themselves. When your child says they are bored ask them to show you how they are going to solve it. Hand them a towel and say, “What could you do with this?” Extend boundaries gradually.  Maybe you currently ask your child to play next to you. Maybe the next step would be to let them play in their room by themselves.

Independence for this country was a long, hard fought battle. Look at independence for your child as a smoother process offering your child a little space to grow.