July’s Parenting Tip: Promoting Independence

Jul 20, 2023

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. It is your job to help them reach their full potential.

According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and West Allis/Wauwatosa, “Promoting independence and unlocking your child’s potential comes down to positively encouraging them, so they will develop the confidence 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 let them pick out each part of their outfit for the day. Another idea is to give them choices when it comes to chores, such as asking if they would rather help water the flowers or set the table. For younger children, or for more difficult tasks, break it into smaller tasks, so your children can successfully complete them and still build their confidence.

Encourage your children’s curiosity. If your children ask you a question, answer it to the best of your ability, or if you don’t know the answer, look it up together. If they want to know how something is done, show them how when you have time. Working with your children is a great way to set an example. They will learn by watching you and 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, let them know how much you appreciated the help and 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 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 their independence. Rushing it can be discouraging. When expecting your children to complete a new task such as putting on their shoes and coat by themselves before leaving the house, build in a little extra time to be sure they are not feeling rushed and have time to problem-solve, if needed.

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 Twelve Months
At the age of six to twelve months, your children can eat little pieces of food with their fingers, and you can start teaching them how to hold a spoon and cup.

One to Two Years
At the age of one to two years, children can start making more choices in their daily routine, follow one-step directions, and start helping with tasks like wiping the table and cleaning up toys. They can also begin learning to use an open cup at meals.

Three to Five Years
From the ages three to five, your children can learn to dress themselves using zips and buttons, work on potty training, and clean up messes. They will not need as much assistance with tasks as they used to. They will also begin to gain more independence in their play, show problem-solving skills, and follow more complex instructions.

Six to Eight Years
From the ages six to eight, your children will want to be even more independent as they begin to think about their future and their place in the world. Talk to them about their goals and their current responsibilities to determine what they want to learn next. As they develop strong friendships and go off to play with friends, having these conversations with your children and anyone you leave them with will ensure you are on the same page about safety, expectations, and when adult help is needed in a task.

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 tasks on their own or come up with unique solutions to problems they encounter. This gives you a glimpse into the type of adults they will become in the future.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers 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, Oak Creek, and West Allis/Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1138 S. 108th Street, West Allis. For more information, please call 414.6435070