Cincinnati Family Magazine

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January 28, 2023

Help Yourself: 8 Tips for Building Independent Kids

Are you tired of tugging your child’s pj’s off and pulling tops over his head? Do you brush his teeth for him? Style his hair? Make an independent kid with our easy tips (and gain more time for YOU!)

YOU may be ready for school, but are your kids? Do you frantically dress your kindergartener each day in order to make the bus on time? Relax, ALL parents do this kind of thing at one time or other, worrying about what needs to be done here and now and QUICKLY. The only problem is it can become a habit. If you repeatedly do for your child what he can do for himself you’re sending the message that you don’t believe he’s capable of being an independent kid.

If you know you’re doing too much for your child, the good news is, it’s fixable.
Here are 8 tips that will help you lighten YOUR load and turn your child into an independent kid:

1. Tell your children that YOU want to change.
If you realize you do too much for your kids, let them know. Say something like, “Kids, I’ve made a mistake. I’ve been treating you like little kids who can’t do anything when you’re actually ready to take care of a lot of your own things yourself.”

2. Make a list with each child
Are you brushing your child’s teeth? Put it on the list because it’s time for her to do it herself! Be fair tho, ask each one of your kids which duties they confidently feel they can do on their own (hint: if it’s everything on the list, let them try!)

3. Don’t overwhelm
Set priorities – tackle one item at a time, so your child can have success.

4. Build in time for them 
If it takes him 15 minutes to brush his hair (put down the brush, mom!), have him set his alarm clock 15 minutes earlier. He may surprise you with his willingness to cooperate.

5. Have fun compromising
You can’t expect everything to come together right away. Maybe you can pretend you’re the beauty parlor lady to get her hair done if she gets her outfit on by herself in a reasonable amount of time.

6. Kids aren’t perfect and neither are you
Remember being a kid? You weren’t into doing everything “just so” like you are now. Try to accept the way your kids do things without criticizing (that’s the quickest way to shut down their efforts).

7. Praise!
If only half of what you wanted your child to do is what you get, still praise for what she DID do. Praise will keep her trying to achieve. Who doesn’t love praise?!

8. Know that things can change.
You should expect regression from time to time especially if your child is sick or extremely busy with schoolwork. Let them know you’re aware of what’s going on and that you’ll share the load for a while until things settle down. He’ll bounce back more quickly than he would if you insult him for  letting things slide.

Source: The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids (New World Library; 2007) by Dr. Jenn Berman and Donna Corwin


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