How to Raise an Independent Child*

*This is a collaborative post*


What does independent mean to you? How soon can we expect a child to be independent?

At 4 or 5 when your child begins school you will naturally be nervous of how they will manage without you or without their familiar carer.

The good news however is that most children adjust very easily and independence grows naturally.

However, it’s important that as parents, we continue to encourage the growth of independence in our children. It can be very easy to slip into a comfortable, easy place of doing too much for our children so that they don’t develop at the same pace as their more capable peers. By the time your child starts full-time school at the age of 5, they should ideally be able to do the following:

  • Speak clearly using relatively complex sentences

  • Count 10 or more things

  • Recognize some letters and perhaps write their name

  • Understand the concept of time and the order in which daily activities happen

  • Understand future and past – ‘we will go to the park tomorrow” or ‘we went to the park yesterday’

  • Follow two and three step commands such as, “put the book on the shelf, then get your coat.”

  • Remember their full name and address

  • Understand rules such as ‘no running in the corridor’ and ‘no shouting indoors’

  • Feed themselves cleanly and notice when they need to wash their hands or face

Of course, not all children of this age can manage all of these things. Some children simply need more practice than others – and that’s fine!

Helping your child become more independent

Before you reach to do up your child’s coat, stop and suggest that they try themselves. This is a simple act but one which many parents do for their child simply because it’s faster! Patience in allowing your child to try and fail and to keep encouraging them is vital when it comes to helping your child to grow in independence. Other areas where you can step back include the following:

  • Tidying up their toys at the end of play

  • Putting books back on the shelf

  • Washing their own plate and cup

  • Drying themselves after a bath

  • Getting dressed themselves

  • Paying in the shop

  • Setting up board games

The more you encourage and praise your child, the more keen they will be to try new challenges. This independent school in London encourages boys to keep challenging themselves in every possible area as they progress through the school. Remember that if your child struggles to manage a new task, the important thing is to stay positive and to praise them for their efforts. Don’t suggest they’ve done a perfect jobs – children know when they’re being patronised. Simply praise them for trying and tell them that the more they practice the faster they’ll succeed. 
*Photo source Pexels

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