We all want our little ones to depend on us as much as they can. There is a certain sense of both needing to be wanted and wanting to be needed as a parent. When you add to that the problem of just never wanting them to grow up because they are so cute and awesome, you begin to have issues with their independence. Well…some of us do anyway.
The truth is, if your child is starting to want to become independent it means that you are doing something right. It means that you are creating an environment where they feel as though they can stretch their wings and learn on their own. It’s an important step in their development – even if it is slightly heartbreaking to deal with as a parent.
While we secretly want our little ones to stay young forever, we also want to make sure they grow up to be able to do things on their own. To do that you have to encourage them to do their own thing. If they want to pick out their own clothes, then let them. Even if that means that they are going to school wearing purple tights and a bright orange tank with neon green writing on it. It might look weird to you, but to them it’s what they decided to wear.
They may fight you on doing up their jacket or their shoes. Yes, it is absolutely faster if you do it for them. It is also less frustrating, but keep in mind that you know how to do it already, they don’t. This is actually also a good time to try and remember that at one point in time your parents had to go through the exact same thing with you when you were that age. Or around that age (some of us like to push the boundaries of independence sooner than others).
If your kids are asking to help with small tasks around them house, let them. Even if it takes a little extra time than normal. If you don’t actually have the time to let them help, try and explain to them that next time they can help but this time you’re in a hurry. Give them the reason so they know what to expect. It’s okay to tell them no, if you have a reason that they can put behind it. Just make sure you aren’t continuously putting them off.
At the end of the day, as much as you want your little one to stay little, you have to admire their sense of trying to be their own little person. It actually takes quite a bit of confidence to try something that you’re not already good at and you should be encouraging that confidence. Even if they mess it up, even if it makes you late, and even if it causes you frustration, encourage them to try and be that little independent person that they are. You’ll be thankful you did. Well…most days you will anyway.
Barb, LMHC, CPC, ED.M, CAS
What types of tasks are you children trying to become more independent in? Tell us below.
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