If you’re the parent of a preschooler, chances are you hear these phrases quite often…
“Mommy, can you get my toy?”
“I need a Snack, get it!”
“Momma, Tie my shoes please.”
While we love to be there for our little ones, teaching them how to be independent in some areas at a young age is actually very healthy for them. Renowned educator and physician Maria Montessori, who is famous for the Montessori method of education, once said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Letting your child try and do some things for themselves has a number of benefits. This is one of the most powerful lessons we as parents can teach our children. Preschoolers are like sponges, they soak up everything around them. By teaching them some independence, they begin to develop a sense of self-confidence.
“As such, fostering independence in preschool, through activities, language, mindset, and environment, is only us responding to the child’s natural yearning and sensitivity to be independent,” she adds, “to create the man that he will become, in a setting that allows for the child’s safety, happiness, confidence, and success.” – Mars Medina When teaching independence to your preschooler, start small. Find a simple task that they can succeed at. Have them brush their own teeth or put their dish in the sink on their own. As they succeed give them more responsibility. Don’t forget to make it fun! Kids learn best by doing, and the more they enjoy it, the more they will embrace it.
Why Teaching Independence to Preschoolers is Important
- Independence in children promotes confidence and self-esteem.
- Independence motivates preschoolers to continue to persevere in school.
- Preschoolers will learn self-reliance, allowing your child to feel they have control over their life.
- Building independence gives your child a sense of importance and belonging which is essential for building social relationships and for contributing to the world.
- It develops their levels of self-awareness and sensitivity towards others which teaches them to help those around them.
- It teaches them a sense of responsibility.
- It provides them with the belief that they are competent and capable of taking care of themselves which makes them resilient to external challenges.
- It allows them to become good decision-makers as they have the freedom to consider various options before choosing the one they feel is best.
- It develops other vital qualities such as patience, concentration, self-help, cooperation, self-discipline and self-trust.
- It gives them the freedom to experience life fully and learn its many important lessons.
- It increases their sense of achievement and success as a direct result of their own actions.
Ways to Promote Independence in Preschoolers
There are many activities preschoolers can do every day at home to help nurture independence. While it can be difficult to let your child do things that frustrate them, it’s important to let them learn things by doing them. Sometimes this means allowing them to try difficult things until the barriers to independence no longer exist and a task becomes second nature.
Allow your child to pick out their clothes. This is a great activity to do at night before bed, especially if the morning is busy. You can also have children pick out clothes for the whole week on Sunday.
Make sure you leave extra time in your morning routine and let your child dress themselves. Your preschooler may get distracted at first. Try setting a timer. After your child is dressed encourage teeth brushing.
Breakfast preparation is another great way to nurture independence in your preschool-aged child. If the morning doesn’t allow for prep, you can at least let your child choose between a few healthy options or setting the table for the meal. Your child can also help clean up the table after a meal.
Giving each of your kids a role in the family meal helps build independence and also models the value of teamwork. When everyone in the family contributes to cleaning up this helps your preschooler feel connected to your family as well.
Chores for children such as putting away toys will also help promote independence. You may encounter resistance, but it’s worth the battle. Similarly, cleaning bedrooms will increase independence. Tasks such as making a bed, dusting, and putting away laundry are all things preschoolers can accomplish.
Creating routines such as putting away coats, shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes when entering the house will reinforce routines established at preschool and encourage tidiness.
If you have a pet engage your preschooler in simple tasks that teach different types of responsibilities. Feeding the dog/cat/fish, filling water bowls or cleaning fish bowls, walking the dog, giving pets a bath – there are so many responsibilities that preschoolers can take on when caring for a pet. An added benefit is that they learn about compassion and caring for others.
Why it is Essential to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Your Children!
Giving ‘our little people’ the gift of independence lets them know that we value them so that they grow up with a strong sense of self-belief that they can do anything they put their mind to. Not only does this help our children grow and develop, but it also fosters them to be confident and competent communicators, curious and resilient explorers, and creative thinkers.