MUMMY I WANT TO DO IT! How children learn to become independent
Confidence is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child and allowing your children to become independent is a part of this very important process; encouraging your child through the many different stages of his or her development in the right way is the best way to help them become confident independent adults.
When do children start to become independent?
In the first 12 months of life your baby depends totally on his caregivers: your child is not yet person who has become aware of himself, but a tiny being with countless basic needs that need to be satisfied.
A process then begins during which your child becomes increasingly aware of what he can or cannot do, starting with walking, that gives him a whole new outlook on life, and the ability to reach and do things independently that he was unable to do previously.
This starts a slow but steady process of acquiring motor and intellectual skills, triggering the infinite number of things he or she does for the first time.
When your child is almost two years old (also known as the TERRIBLE TWO years), he will start wanting to prove to himself that he can do things on his own and, if before he was a little more self-centred, he will now start to watch adults and imitate them, thinking that there is nothing he cannot do.
How can we encourage our children?
Parents will need a great deal of patience. You will need to be firm in laying down the rules, while allowing your little one to test his or her limits.
Only by helping your child through this “controlled” phase of experimentation, when you will very often hear him saying “NO”, can we help our children become self-confident and more aware of themselves.
Independence such as walking, talking and eating, are skills that must be taught and learnt at the right time. All you really need to do is follow your instinct to decide when to say “yes” or “no”.
Tips to raise a confident independent child
Helping your children become independent starts with little things you do every day:
- encourage your children to eat on their own
- encourage your child to dress themselves (and choose their clothes)
- encourage your children to tidy up their toys before going to bed
Helping your children learn these skills, that we adults take for granted, but which for children may be very challenging, will help them become more confident and proud of what they achieve.
Parents must simply be there for their children to help them along the way. Let's take a look at an example: the first time your child tries to eat on his own, you need the right cutlery, a big bib, a plastic tablecloth, and if you like, paper on the floor... and a great deal of patience.
Your child will start playing around with the spoon and food ... then little by little, following the example of the others, he will start to put food into his mouth.
It is very important to praise your child when he tries and succeeds, since this will make him feel strong and confident and he will not be afraid to try new experiences.
The same applies to when he wants to dress himself; the first time he won't be able to pull on his socks, and he may put on his shirt or jumper back to front: but it really doesn't matter. In time he will become more confident and more careful about what he does. Most importantly, he must feel that he has managed to do what he wanted to do all on his own, that his parents are pleased and proud of him, so that day after day, a little at a time, he will feel that he is growing older and able to do things on his own.
Tidying up toys before going to bed is very important, because not only will your children learn to become tidy adults, and when they are older they will thank you (take my word for it, and I am very untidy), but doing this before bedtime sets a pattern helping your children accept bedtime and go to sleep without tantrums.
Practice what you preach because children copy us. So do what you want your children to do.
Here are the things we can do every day:
- tidy up their toys
- help with simple cleaning chores
- set the table
If you have other tips to share, please write to us on our contact page.