7 Ways to Avoid Raising a Needy Child
Raising children who are independent and self-sufficient is no easy feat — no mom wants to still be cooking and doing laundry for her child 30 years down the line. Although we want our babies to stay babies forever, as parents we have to do as much as we can while our kiddos are little to help them grow up to be self-reliant in preparation for adulthood.
Read through for seven tips to help you raise independent children.
Keep to schedules and routines.
When you stick to a schedule at home — the same way they will in school and at work in the future — it encourages them to be responsible and keep track of their own routine. For example, if they know they need to have their homework finished before dinner so that they can have some screen time after they eat, they can make a choice for themselves to stick to that schedule you’re enforcing.
As they get older, let them do particular activities alone.
Starting from when they’re a toddler, leave them alone in their room for a bit to play (watching or listening from another room), and as they get older let them play in the yard solo, walk to a friend's house, ride their bike to school, and, depending on your state’s age requirement, stay home alone for a short period of time. All of these activities encourage your child to be self-reliant.
Encourage chores in the house.
Rather than pick up after your child until they head off to college, start employing chore charts as early as age 2. A job around the house here and there helps your child to learn that they are responsible for cleaning up after themselves and are required to help out as a member of your family for everyone’s benefit.
Employ the “if you want it, get it” rule.
Although this won’t always work out in every scenario, whenever possible, remind your child that Mom and Dad aren’t their waiters, butlers, or backpacks. If they want something they’re allowed to have, they can go grab it, and if they need to bring 12 toys with them in the car, they’ll have to carry them. This small “rule” shows children that they can do things for themselves, and keeping track of their own things will help them develop organizational skills.
Praise them for their accomplishments.
Anything your child does on their own — homework, chores, taking a bath, etc. — should be praised. This doesn’t require over-the-top gushing or rewards, but a simple “great job” or "thank you for doing that" lets your kid know that you’re proud of them for their accomplishments — no matter how small — as well as appreciative of their independence.
Let them experiment and learn.
It can be difficult at times to let go and give our children the opportunity to do something without our help. Sure, you might be able to clean up that box of 450 tiny Legos much faster — and with fewer bare foot injuries — but you won’t be teaching your child anything by doing it for them. Show them you have confidence in them by giving them opportunities to grow, learn, and problem-solve. In addition, allow them to pursue their goals, even if that means letting them try something you don’t think they’re “ready” to do alone.
Remind them that they have choices.
To raise a truly independent child, you have to encourage your child to make their own choices in life. Rather than having to rely on you, give your kids chances to make their own decisions, even if it starts out as something small, like choosing what to put in their lunchbox.