Developing Independent Children: 3 Quick Tips
Fostering your child’s independence is one of the most important steps you can take in supporting your child’s development and confidence. Our Brisbane Speech Pathologists and Occupational therapists work with families to help develop this area.
Building independence helps your child to learn to do things for themselves – this includes taking on board responsibility, making their own decisions and learning cause and effect.
Fostering independence earlier in childhood also supports physical development, including hand-eye coordination and motor skills. This creates a strong foundation for later-developing skills that are important for day to day tasks, such as writing, coping with adulthood and self-care.
The home environment is the most ideal place for your child to start practising becoming an independent individual.
You can start to build independence in your child with the following tips from our Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists:
- Give children extra time
While it’s very difficult to ignore the temptation to help your child to speed up your day, it is important to be patient and allow children extra time to practise doing tasks such as dressing, closing lids, putting toys away. With time and practise, your child will speed up and be able to take on more tasks.
- If things are still taking forever, try practicing these skills in play, studies show that children that learn skills through play take a lot less repetitions to develop mastery
- Including these skills in play also develops a child’s sense of success, once they feel this, they feel more confident to have a go more often or try new ways to develop mastery
- Start a daily download
It is important for your child to feel connected to their caregiver so they feel comfortable to explore and experiment in their own world. This also helps with building independence. Starting a daily download not only opens space for connection, but also allows your child to explore their day, decisions they made and what they might do differently next time. You can open conversations that will develop key skills for life:
- Theory of mind/perspective taking (how did Johnny feel when that happened?),
- Planning and Organisation (what else could you try next time? Would you like me to share when that happened to me at school?)
- Regulation and self monitoring (whoa, that must have been tough, what strategy can you use next time to help you tackle that tricky thing next time?)
- Set a routine
Establishing consistent home routines in the home environment is a very helpful way to build your child’s independence and enhance comfort for everyone at home. Why are routines helpful
- Seeing the routine visually helps kids to see what they have to do
- Predicatbility – when they have a consistent routine they can predict what is going to happen, this allows space for them to finish faster to allow for time to do something they really want to do before or after school
- Routines also allow for you to give your child/children a role in helping the family get daily jobs done by gradually giving them larger or more “optional” tasks to complete; this creates a sense of belonging and responsibility
Written in 2019 by Hanna Corfield (Occupational Therapist).
Edited in 2023 by Hanna Corfield.