On Sunday we waved bye to our 13 year-old independent son as he and a bus load of his theater friends embarked on a week long trip to New York City… I compared it to the first day of Kindergarten. It was a very similar feeling for me — except when I left him at school that very first morning, I saw him five hours later. I have to wait a whole week to seem him again now.
Our son spent four nights away at a summer camp, but this is by far the longest and farthest away he has ever been away from us. I know he will be just fine, my husband and I, well, I am certain it is much tougher on us. We are so excited for this amazing opportunity for him. He will be seeing four Broadway shows, taking an acting class, meeting actors, and lots of the tourist/site-seeing stuff, too. Independent or not, I’m very grateful for a great group of chaperones who have kept me updated with photos.
Planning for this trip got me to thinking about how independent our son is… or isn’t. Have we taught our son the proper skills he needs to be independent?
One of the most important gifts we can give our children is the ability to be an independent person. But how do you encourage a child to be independent? What is it that parents are capable of doing that provides their child with this instinct to take on the world independently and be their own person? How to raise an independent child can be made easier with these three elements:
- Unconditional love
How to Raise an Independent Child
With those three elements being a primary portion of your parenting days, you will undoubtedly start encouraging your child to be independent and more confident. One of our parental duties is to make sure that our children are ready for the real world once they hit adult age.
The least frightening way to encourage your child to be independent is to let go gradually over time, for instance the first step could be to start teaching your child to have their own opinions. When a situation arises that may frustrate your child or confuse them, take time to have them share their thoughts and emotions that may be going on in that moment.
While a parent ultimately rules the home, having a safe home environment where your child can freely express their opinions teaches the life skill of independence. A child who is allowed to express their concerns, emotions and thoughts with their parents is more apt to do so outside of the home.
Allowing your child to have age appropriate independent play time, such as coloring at the table while you cook dinner, going to the backyard to play, or engaging in activities with their siblings beyond electronic time are fantastic ways to increase your child’s ability to be on their own.
Adding daily activities to your child’s schedule that allow for independent play time will increase their ability to be on their own for years come. When a child is able to self-entertain and think freely, they tend to be great leaders in the work force as an adult.
Last but not least, take time each day to acknowledge a task your child has completed on their own, give praise and kind words showing your excitement for them as they work to be independent. When your child fails at something and throws a fit of frustration, pick them up with your inspiring words so that they are encouraged to try again next time.
If you continue on the path of teaching your child the skills they need to be independent, they will surely thrive in this busy world as they grow into adults and move out on their own.
It will be much easier raising an independent child if we let our kids know that they may make mistakes or fail, but it’s important to learn from our mistakes and to always try. And it’s also important that we let our kids make those mistakes… no matter how difficult it is for us.
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