I am sure all parents are able to identify with the dilemma we have of wanting our children to remain a baby forever but also wondering when they will be independent enough to do things on their own. One of the best gifts we can give our young children is the gift of independence. I believe it is fair to say that a young child’s opinions about his or her capabilities are mostly based on their parent’s response to them.
Our role as adults in fostering independence in our children is to ensure that they enjoy good self-esteem. Whilst providing love and support, we need to encourage exploration and curiosity; we teach them skills and then allow them to make appropriate choices. As tempting as it may be, continuing to do everything for a child stunts emotional growth and slows independence.
“In reality, at every age children are both trying to gain their own independence, and will at the same time, be somewhat to even greatly afraid of the separation such independence presents.”
It is important for those of us who are part of the children’s journey to gradually but genuinely encourage the transitions to greater independence as the children grow. Our role should be one of easing fear, showing what is possible and providing a sense of security that, no matter what our children try, we are right there alongside them.
Once children start school, we can make the most of their budding independence. It is at this stage where they are verbally capable of expressing many thoughts, feelings and needs, and they are ready to take bigger steps towards independence. Encouraging independence helps to build a sense of competence and teaches young children how to do things for themselves and others.
Let us try to honour our children’s choices wherever possible. You are helping them to gain control over their world, their future and to prepare them for a healthy, independent life ahead.
Head of Dąbrowskiego, Early Years Centre