For most moms there’s a fine line between too much independence and too little. You want your child to be confident enough to explore and manage on their own. Yet you also want some input and control over the situation. There are steps you can take to promote your child’s independence while still feeling comfortable.
- Provide Security – Toddlers and children will naturally become independent if they’ve been raised in an environment where they feel secure. It starts when they’re very young. The first time you leave your toddler’s sight and they experience separation anxiety is a milestone for them. By being aware of your child’s security needs and guiding them through separation issues in a positive way you’ll help them feel secure, and that’s the first step toward them being able to take steps of independence. For example, if you’re in the next room and your child is fussing because they cannot see you, you might talk to them from the room. They become aware of your presence and can calm down without actually seeing you.
- Encourage But Don’t Push – Some moms are a little too anxious for their children to be independent and they force the issue. For example, you might send your child away for summer camp when they really aren’t ready. Encouraging your child to take steps toward being more independent is a better approach. Maybe try a day camp where they’re away from you for the daytime but back at home where they feel safe at night.
- Allow Them To Make Mistakes – “Helicopter moms” is a name for parents who hover and don’t allow children to experience natural consequences. This can prevent some children from feeling comfortable taking charge of their life and being independent. Step back and allow your child to make mistakes. Find the balance between hovering and permissive parenting. When your child is allowed to realize natural consequences they’ll learn that they’re capable of handling things and making decisions.
- Ask for Help – One step you can take to help encourage your child’s independence is to ask for their help with small tasks. You can begin to do this at a young age. For example, you can ask them to help put away the toys, to help set the table or to help prepare meals. They can go with you to walk the dog and clean out the family car. When a child learns responsibility they also learn to feel capable.
At some point, your child will become an independent adult. It’s your job as their mom to help foster this independence. It begins when they’re very young. The more secure a child feels with their parent, the easier the transition will be through adolescence and teenage years and beyond.