Every child is different and some children are more confident in trying new things, while others need more time and some encouragement. As they get older, children can manage more and more tasks and decisions hence, slowly become independent. However, it is not so easy as it sounds… identify the balance and the right level of support may be tricky but overall, kids appreciate knowing that they have adults backing. On the parents’ side, this is a tough challenge and takes time but then you will be paid off as children's self-confidence, maturity and reliance are established and grow.
It is a fact that children love testing boundaries along with enjoying taking risks and being impulsive: so, what a parent can do to mitigate the issues? We can provide them with a structure and slowly introduce various challenges, but without depriving them of space to experience and testing with things on their own within the safety of your family. Simple actions such as let your kids help you in preparing meals, encourage them in playing on their own for a little bit or just take them to a new playground with different play equipment will help you in supporting your kids in growing their independence. I know this sounds so easy to read but in reality, it’s much harder from the parent's perspective.
Parents should not forget that the part of children’s brain that processes consequences develop much later than the body’s parts responsible for actions: so, make sure that you balance kids growing need for independence with enough supervision to guarantee their safety to themselves and other kids. You may receive support to do that in establishing clear limits, what behaviour is good and not good in your family and, if your children are old enough to know reading, you can put a rules’ chart hang in your home. Instead, if you have young kids as I do, keep everything simple to guarantee you positive results...and never give up!
Despite the age of your kids, don’t forget to pay attention to their needs and understand when you can or can’t back off: it is crucial to balance adequate supervision while giving kids the opportunity to figure thing out on their own and make mistakes and try to avoid taking over. As previously mentioned, it takes time to see their part of the brain properly developed for this but, if your kids show you that are constantly bored or need direction on what to do next, maybe the best gift you can offer them is the ability to play independently. Of course, children’s safety comes first and being an independent player gives benefits to your child but also to you. I am aware of the fact that raising children is difficult and challenging to be with them 24/7…. and, sometimes, you just need a break.
Hence, teach your children the ability to play independently will support you in not constantly rely on technology to allow you to sit for a moment. Then, you will earn minutes to dedicate to yourself on a daily schedule, and the most important thing for the kids is that they will learn by encouraging them to learn to play on their own (thus, they improve their creativity, confidence, attention, not give up).
Here are some tips for you utilised by a mom:
- Slowly prepare your children about the idea of independent play, few minutes per day to begin and don’t forget to assure them that you are in the background and will be back soon. Be sure that you respect the time of your return and gradually increase the time you are gone….thus, it becomes part of your routine and the kids will be happy to play on their own.
- On a monthly basis, put some toys away (in a box or in your storeroom) and bring them out in the following month: kids will instantly have the seemingly feeling to have new toys at home. Swapping their toys will reduce kids’ feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of toys available at home.
- It is well known that children learn better by modelling their behaviour or simply sitting next to each other on the floor in a quiet environment to read their favourite books. "Independent play" does not necessarily mean solitary play, it just means that your kids do not need you all the time to show them how to entertain themselves….you will be in the same room, your presence in the room will be enough to comfort them.
- Still, don’t forget to organise a playdate for your kids. Children need to play together to improve their independent play and, at the same time, it is even another way to learn how to wait to play with a particular toy and the importance of sharing a toy. Not only kids will reinforce their sharing skills but can learn how to respect someone else feelings.
Hope you will get some benefits from this blog and enjoy your and your kids' independence days…. Have fun!