July’s Parenting Tip: Encouraging Independence to Unlock Your Child’s Potential

Jun 28, 2020

As a parent, it can be scary to think about how quickly your little ones are growing up. However, you can’t postpone the inevitable, and it’s up to you to help ensure they reach their full potential.

According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa, “Inspiring independence and unlocking your children’s potential comes down to positively encouraging them, so they will develop the courage necessary to complete tasks independently.”

Anderson says that one of the best ways to motivate your children to be more independent is to provide opportunities for them to make their own choices. For example, you can ask them if they would rather help put away the laundry or set the table. If a chore is too difficult, simplify it into smaller tasks, so your children can successfully complete it and build their confidence.

Encourage your children’s curiosity. If your children ask you a question, try to answer it. If they want to know how something is done, show them. Working with your children is a great way to set an example. Your children will learn by watching you and can become more comfortable with the task.

“When your children ask to help, show enthusiasm. This will encourage them to help more often,” says Anderson. “When your children accomplish a task, praise them for a job well done.”

Anderson says that it is important to help develop your children’s confidence by allowing them to solve their own problems. You can also ask them questions to promote their problem-solving skills. Ask questions like “What if you wanted a glass of milk, but all of the glasses were dirty, what would you do?” or “What if you wanted to draw a rainbow, but you were missing a color, what would you do?” These types of “what if” questions allow your children to think independently and creatively.

It is also important to ease your children into independence. Rushing it can be discouraging. Observe your children to understand what skills they have already mastered and then work directly with them to learn a new, slightly more difficult skill. Here is a list of milestones to use as a guide, but remember, every child is different and grows at his or her own pace.

Six to Nine Months
Babies insist on holding a bottle or picking up food themselves. At the age of six to nine months, your children can eat little pieces of food with their fingers, and you can start teaching them how to hold a spoon.

Two or Three
At the age of two or three, your children should have more developed self-help skills. Perhaps they can put on their socks and shoes but have not learned how to put on a shirt or pair of pants. You can encourage your children to learn and practice in order to develop these new skills.

Three or Four
At the age of three or four, your children can help you accomplish simple tasks like sorting laundry, washing the table, and putting toys away.

Four or Five
At the age of four or five, you can monitor your children as they play outside. Just make sure they understand basic safety such as not leaving the yard, crossing the street alone, or talking to strangers.

Seven or Eight
At the age of seven or eight, your children will likely want to go and play with friends. It is important to communicate with their friend’s parents and make sure they have rules such as not going past a certain street or being home by a certain time. It can be tricky, but try to observe your children while still allowing independence. Let them play in a different room or outside while you watch from afar.

Independence is an important part of growing up. As parents, you work hard to make sure that your children have the skills necessary to succeed in life. Even though it may be challenging to watch your children grow up, it can be rewarding to watch them accomplish a task on their own or even come up with a unique solution to a problem. Watching your children in these situations allows you a glimpse into the type of man or woman they will become.

Ebenezer Child Care Center is a not for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and West/Allis Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070 .