For most moms, there’s a fine line between too much independence and too little. You want your children 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 are 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 children’s security needs and guiding them through separation issues in a positive way, you’ll help them to feel secure. That’s the first of many steps in your child becoming independent. For example, if you’re in the next room and your child is fussing because he cannot see you, you might talk to him from where you are located. He becomes 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 to summer camp when they aren’t ready. Encouraging your child to take some steps toward being more independent is a better approach. Maybe try a day camp where she’s away from you for the daytime but back at home where she feels 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 type of parenting can prevent some children from feeling comfortable taking charge of their lives and becoming independent. Step back and allow your child to make mistakes. Find the balance between hovering and permissive parenting. When your child is permitted to realize natural consequences, he’ll learn that he’s capable of handling things and making some decisions on his own.
- 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 your child to help put away the toys, to help set the table or to help prepare meals. He can go with you to walk the dog and clean out the family car. When a child learns responsibility, he also learns to feel capable.
Related: Stages of Social/Emotional Development – Erik Erikson
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 more comfortable the transition will be through adolescence and teenage years and beyond.