How to Teach Your Kids to Be More Independent?

Brothers sit together on couch to read story books

It doesn’t matter if your child studies at a government school, private school or international school, as a parent, we all want them to be independent.

However, teaching them to be self-sufficient and responsible is not always easy. As parents, we want to make things easier for our kids, save them from making mistakes, and make sure they don’t have to go through too much trouble.

But all these might actually prevent them from becoming independent.

Imagine how great it would be if a kid in primary school could already clean up after themselves, prepare their snacks, pack their lunches, and help around the home.

There is no denying that teaching kids to be independent will not only make their lives simpler but will also set them on the path to becoming responsible citizens.

Here are some simple things you can do every day to help your child become more self-sufficient.


1. Set Your Expectations

As long as your expectations are clear and fair, children will typically endeavour to satisfy them. They’ll give up if you ask too much of them. However, if your expectations are too low, you won’t push them to understand what they’re capable of.

As a result, concentrate on setting realistic expectations while keeping in mind that the process may involve some trial and error.

If you’re not sure what makes a fair expectation, set one that’s just a tad higher than what you’re experiencing right now. And keep an eye on your child while he or she tries to live up to your expectations.

A reasonable expectation could be: “Jennifer, I expect you to put your dishes in the sink every time you’re done eating.”


2. Take Time to Teach

Most things are easier to complete yourself rather than having to educate your child on how to do them. It’s also never easy to watch your child struggle with something you could simply help them with.

Consider the time you spend educating your child to perform a task on his or her own as an investment. You’ll spend less time performing such duties yourself down the road if you invest time now in teaching your kid how to clean the kitchen or vacuum the living room.


3. Allow Them to Make Mistakes

Allowing children to make mistakes may seem paradoxical at first, but it will teach them how to succeed in life. Let them know it’s fine if they make a mistake, and encourage them to think about how they might improve next time.

This mentality shift may lead to anything from little errors, such as forgetting to carry an umbrella when the weather forecast predicts rain, to major ones, such as failing an exam because they waited until the night before to study.

It’s difficult to watch your child struggle. But teaching your kids that failure is just feedback can help them develop a growth mindset. With this mindset, they will be confident that they can handle any challenge.



4. Provide Options and Freedom, But Only Within Reasonable Boundaries

Giving children independence and enabling them to make decisions is an excellent way to empower them, increase their confidence in their decision-making abilities, and foster a feeling of responsibility.

When kids can make their own choices, they are more likely to find out what happens when they do something.

Allowing children to make their own decisions is one way parents can demonstrate to their children that their preferences, wants, and needs are valued. The more practice children have at making their own decisions, the better.

Instead of asking, “What do you want to do today?”, ask whether they would want to go to the playground or go for a walk. Try to provide two or three possibilities that you are comfortable with; this will make it easier for you to say “yes” to whatever option they choose.


5. Don’t Try to Over-Correct Them

When your child is attempting to accomplish anything independently, try to avoid correcting them as much as possible.

If you ask your child to make their bed and it isn’t perfect, resist the urge to fix it. It’s important to remember that perfection isn’t the aim. The idea is for your child to take on some of the responsibilities.

They will not want to try again if they are constantly corrected.


6. Communicate Gratitude

When your kid breaches the rules or fails to stay on target, it’s natural for parents to pay attention to them. However, paying attention (even negative attention) to misconduct might reinforce it.

Instead, try to focus more on expressing gratitude when they do something good or meet your expectation. This will encourage them to do more.

“Wow, you did a fantastic job putting your dish away without being asked,” or “I’m glad you sat down and finished your schoolwork all by yourself today.”


Final Thoughts

Every kid, at different school levels, develops at his or her own pace. So don’t become disheartened if your kid doesn’t meet your expectation.

They can develop the skills and get the confidence they need to start doing more tasks on their own with additional help and supervision from you. The school too does play an important role in helping kids to become independent.

For instance, certain private school or international primary school, such as Straits International School, places a great emphasis on training the kids to be independent with hands-on school activities.

For further information, feel free to schedule a school tour with our friendly course counsellors.