How can you help your child become independent? Every parenting approach is different, but all parents want one thing. They all want their kids to grow up feeling happy, nurtured, and independent. Letting your child be independent can be a challenge. Beyond that, feeling like you’re nurturing their independence is a greater challenge.
Parents want their kids to feel connected to their family and their community. Kids also need the confidence to move beyond their comfort zone and grow into their own skin. This is a delicate balance, but with some patience and a bit of learning, you can help give your child roots at home and wings to soar.
The first step to building independence, regardless of whether you’re a child or an adult, is feeling a sense of safety. If we feel insecure, then we won’t take risks. So giving your child a stable home helps set the foundation for their independent futures. Encourage this connection to home in the following ways:
Sharing or Creating Traditions
More and more families are moving toward a “non-traditional” way of life. You can still share and create traditions while forging your own path in society. Even small things like monthly family movie nights count as traditions. The trick is to repeat something positive in regular increments to help your child feel more connected to their family. Other traditions you can build with your children are:
- Weekly hikes
- Special holiday meals
- Ice cream every Sunday
- Special rituals for each season (tree cutting, flower planting, leaf hunting, etc.)
Be A Storyteller
Humans connect to stories. That’s why we painted on cave walls. You can help your child learn more about you and where they come from by telling them stories about your childhood. Talk to them about the challenges you faced (age-appropriately). Tell them about the awards you got in high school for football or journalism, or tell them about why you struggled in school.
You don’t have to paint yourself as a hero. But give your narrative to your child so they can treasure it with you. It will help ground them now. In the future, it will help them understand your perspective on life, and therefore, the roots of their family values.
Visit Your Family
You can do this in person or through video chat. Some kids might even enjoy having Grandma as a pen pal. Create opportunities for your children to get to know their extended family members. If your family is your friend circle, let them meet those people, too!
This grows their network and shows them that there are other ways of being in the world. They’ll get to know other people, with other standards, with other traditions. Children can take this information in a bit at a time. When they’re older, they’ll know that they have the love of an entire community behind them.
With a steady foundation at home, your child is ready to grow. Sponsor and sustain this growth by:
- Letting them help with family chores and tasks
- Giving them the opportunity for independent play
- Giving them time to sort through conflict on their own before you jump in to help
- Letting them answer for themselves
- Talking them through how they can solve difficult situations
Letting our children take off without us is hard. We want to protect them from all the bad in the world. The fact is, we can’t, and in reality, we really do want them to have the confidence to fly solo.
So, be there for them as a support system. Show them all of your love and belief in them. Let them do hard things. That way, when they’re all grown up, they’ll be strong and ready.