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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Teach Your Children to be Independent - Methods and Techniques

By Andrew Loh

Many parents face several obstacles and problems, when they try to teach their children the importance of leading an independent life. The most common obstacle could be the issue of resistance displayed by children, because they think that not doing something on their own, would erode their assertiveness and freedom to lead a life of own wish.

Parents should make enough time and conserve effort to teach children to become self-reliant and independent. This attitude will make children understand the advantages of self-reliance and independence. They will also see multi-dimensional benefits of self-reliance. Careful and calibrated training will soon make children learn the secrets of self-reliance.

Beneficial skills learnt and mastered by independent children

Acquiring feeding discipline

Children must learn how to eat without their parents helping them to feed. This seems to be the first major lesson in teaching self-reliance. Children, who eat on their own, take a first major step towards becoming independent.

Learning how to wear own clothes and shoes

Learning how to wear cloths, tie shoelaces and shoes would initiate children into the process of becoming independent. This will also teach them how to wash, iron and repair cloths in the future.

Learning how to maintain cleanliness

Children must know different ways with which they can maintain their hygiene and cleanliness. They may also like to know how to brush their teeth, take bath and comb hair all without their parent's help.

Learning how to keep their room and home clean

Another mandatory line of duty is keeping rooms and homes clean and tidy. Knowing how to clean dining tables, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, tidying up study table and working in the garden are the most common daily routines that could help children learn invaluable lessons. Use the following three major steps to teach how to be independent:

  1. Introduce a new skill every week or every month

  2. Help children to learn and master this skill

  3. Assist them to make it a habit

Parents are the best teachers. You may want to teach children a new skill every day. Learning to tie shoelaces in quick time could be a new skill. Wearing a pair of shoes with least problems is yet another skill that is new and time saving. However, knowing what to do is not enough. You may like to train your children how to do it. Teach your children how to do it and in the fastest possible time.

Never assume that your children could it right the first time. It never works in a practical situation. For example, children may never brush their teeth properly in the first few attempts. You may need to monitor their progress for a few days before certifying that they are doing it right. Once you teach the art, you may want to see that it becomes a permanent habit. Here are some more useful tips:

#1 Know exactly what you expect from your children

Let your children repeat what they have learnt and make it a habit. Always try to know your children's innate ability to learn new skills and hone it to perfection. If you observe that they are not capable enough of it, just encourage them to carry on with the present task. Go slow and help them fine-tune the existing skills.

#2 Find time to teach and train

Chose a time when you are free and not doing your daily chore. You should be there when you are teaching a new task. Be practical, do and show.

#3 Break tasks into smaller chunks and make learning easier

Make learning easier by breaking down the task into many easy steps that are doable. Let your children know what you expect from them.

#4 Praise when your child learns a new task that ends up in becoming self-reliant

Praise and reward your children when they achieve something and learn in process. Teach them that achieving a goal will lead them to learn how to become independent.

#5 Practice makes us perfect

It makes your children perfect too! Let your children repeat what they have learnt many times over, so that they become proficient in it.

#6 Use natural situations as opportunities for enhanced learning

Use those opportunities that are available everyday to teach your children. For example, wearing uniform and arranging schoolbags are two of the known activities that teach early independent skills.

#7 If possible, you can role-play situations

For example, you can use real life scenarios to teach children how to become independent. To teach how to arrange a study table, you can show an unorganized table and ask children to arrange them item by item. Ask them to repeat many times for at least a week to make it a habit. Similarly, teach other social skills like how to brush teeth, take bath, washing cloths, take turns while boarding a bus, buy some products in a shopping mall or lead a weekend party for their friends.

#8 Set rigid rules and consequences

Create a set practice of guidelines and ask children to stick to the schedule. Convince them why following the schedule is beneficial to them. Also, let them know the consequences of not following the schedule. Let them be the best in what they learn. Set a timer to finish a task within the set time schedule. Praise their efforts and not person. If possible, buy them treats in the weekend.

Examples of other skills that make children become independent:

  • Waking up early without instructing them to do so

  • Tying shoelaces and wearing shoes on own and without help

  • Wearing socks without help

  • Taking bath on own

  • Brushing teeth

  • Organizing study table

  • Doing homework and projects

  • Wearing cloths

  • Arranging weekend parties

  • Going to post office and shopping complex (for children who are above 10 years of age)

Featured Resource

Setting Limits: How to Raise Responsible, Independent Children by Providing Clear Boundaries
By Robert J. Mackenzie, Ed.D.

Do your children misbehave? Do they repeatedly ignore or refuse your requests for proper behavior? Are you constantly fluctuating between permissive and authoritarian parenting, with little or no success? Are you convinced there has to be a better way? There is. Setting Limits will help you establish the positive, respectful, and instructional groundwork your children need for proper ethical and behavioral development.

In this revised and expanded edition of his popular book, Dr MacKenzie demonstrates proven techniques and procedures that not only correct misbehavior but instill the cooperation and conduct you want and expect from your children.


Featured Resource


Child Development

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