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“No, I wanna do it.” You may have heard your little one speak these words when asking to pour milk into their cereal, putting clothes in the washing machine or setting the table for dinner. Trying new things and taking risks are all part of growing up, and a lot of the learning happens through trial and error. As children get older, many will want to manage more tasks on their own while others may need a little more encouragement. Today we’re talking about encouraging independence in children.

As children grow, they can manage more tasks and decisions on their own. When we build our children’s independence, we want to provide them with just the right amount of assistance where they can learn through trial and error while also feeling secure, knowing they have an adult’s support.

Why is independence important? Independence is about learning to do things for oneself, such as making decisions and taking on responsibility. These are essential life skills for children to learn to cope and be successful in adulthood. Giving your child a sense of independence helps to develop their self-esteem, resilience and wellbeing.

How to develop your child’s independence

Provide opportunities to build on their skills – Start by looking to see what your child can do already, and build on this. If your child can put their shirt on, suggest they have a go at doing up one of the buttons.

Children will require additional time to complete new tasks, however, with practise they will speed up and become more capable. Ignore the temptation to immediately step in if your child is struggling. Sometimes, all your child needs is positive encouragement and a little extra time.

Encourage decision making – You can help your child by giving them simple choices. You might ask them which game they would like to play or what clothing they would like to wear. It is important to be mindful not to put children into situations where a choice is offered, but then is disregarded. This could negatively affect their emotional wellbeing.

Instead, try encouraging them to decide between two acceptable options.

If you are concerned about your child’s development, contact your local ECEI Team. No question is too silly, or concern too great – we are here to support you.

Contact your local ECEI Team at Mission Australia on 1800 860 555, or email us on