Preparing your child for adulthood can be a frightening prospect, but gradual independence throughout childhood is an essential part of growing up. As your child matures, help her gain independence by giving her responsibilities and allowing her to make certain decisions so she can gain confidence in her own choices and abilities.  Here are just some of the ways in which you can introduce independence in a safe, and age-appropriate way.

Clothing choices

Many children begin to vocalize the style of clothes they like quite early on, and parents may even find themselves with a style-conscious toddler. Allowing your children to make decisions about what clothes they wear allows them to feel control and to express their own preferences. This doesn’t mean you need to feel pressure to purchase all manner of clothes just to please your child, and by simply presenting your child with a choice from their existing wardrobe you are giving them a freedom that they will enjoy. Rather than selecting just one outfit and telling your child to wear it, let them choose between two or three options each morning.

Hairstyles

Similarly to clothing, hairstyles can reflect a person’s preferred style. Choosing your own hairstyle can be a very “grown-up” moment for a child, and as long as the chosen style doesn’t contravene any school rules, it can be a fun method of self-expression. If you are concerned that your child may pick an unsuitable style or cut, use the same method suggested with clothing choices and present them with a selection of styles from which to choose. Older children may enjoy researching styles with you, and sites such as Mynewhairstyles.net have pages dedicated to hairstyles for kids which you and your child could consult together.

Allocate chores

An important part of becoming independent is realizing that you must look after, and clean up after yourself. The sooner a child realizes the importance of keeping the home environment clean and organized, the easier it will be for them to accept chores as they grow. Younger children should know to put their trash in the bin, to take plates to the kitchen when finished with, and to tidy away their toys when playtime is over. Make it part of a fun routine for young children and provide incentives such as pocket money for older children.

The importance of making a sandwich

Cooking and baking with your children is a fun way of instilling the importance of nutritious home-cooked foods, and when they are older, they can begin cooking with less supervision. However, simpler food preparation such as sandwich-making, using a plastic or blunt butter knife, can give younger children a sense of independence in addition to introducing them to culinary skills.

It is essential for parents to realize that children do not become independent by themselves, and they will need guidance as well as the opportunity to make mistakes in a safe, nurturing environment. Through guidance and patience you can teach your child to be well on their way to independence. Having said that, you cannot expect your child to do things on his or her own all of a sudden. Make sure to target the priorities one by one so that the little one does not get overwhelmed and learn things properly.