Encouraging Independence
As the summer months continue, children can begin to get bored, and when they become bored they often turn to their parents for help with problems - or finding solutions to their boredom. It is common for parents to begin wondering how to encourage their child to become more independent during these times. There are a few techniques that parents can use to foster independence in their children. These include returning responsibility to them, encouraging problem solving, and noticing the areas where they are already independent.
One strategy for encouraging your child to be more independent, is to ensure that you are not doing things for your child that they can do for themselves. For many adults, when a child asks for help it is automatic to help them. It can be very difficult to watch a child struggle with tasks like trying to get something open or attempting to figure out how something works. However, the child can learn a great deal about independence through these struggles. By allowing your child to struggle, you are showing them you have confidence in them to figure things out independently. When your child asks for your assistance for a task you know they can do, you can return the responsibility to them, saying something like, "I am confident you can do it if you try." The goal is not to frustrate your child though. If the task is something you do not think they can do, or you have watched them try unsuccessfully - you can suggest that maybe you both can try to accomplish the task together. This will allow the child to gain confidence that there are at least parts of the task they can do. To decide if they can do it with or without assistance, remember, you are the expert on your child and you know what they can accomplish.

Another strategy that can be used to aid your child in gaining independence is to have them help solve their own problems. When your child approaches you with a problem that needs to be solved - before answering, ask the child if they have any ideas as to how the problem can be solved. Your child might be able to come up with the solution to his or her problem with just having you there as a sounding board. If your child is not able to think of a solution you can suggest to them that maybe you can think of a solution together. Working as a team with your child rather than just giving them the answer or suggestion, is a way of teaching them how to use problem solving skills in the future. This also gives you an opportunity to encourage their ability to come up with their own ideas.

Finally, to encourage a child to be more independent, you can take advantage of the areas where your child is already showing independence. Mention to your child when they are taking initiative and showing independence, and tell them how proud you are of them. As they make progress with independence, you might even point out how they would have asked for your help before, but now they can do it all on their own. When your child hears you talking about their independence, they will gain confidence in their own skills and be even more encouraged to try being independent in other areas.

All children have the capability to be independent - some just need help to have the confidence to venture out and try things on their own!
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