Nurturing Independence in the Early Years

It’s never too early to start teaching independence and self-help skills to children; especially as you notice them showing more signs of wanting to help – what better way to learn these crucial life skills than by joining in?!

Children have so much to learn about the world around them; and they’re inquisitive, curious and eager to partake, and why would we not want to encourage these skills?  Of course, I totally understand that it is often easier and quicker to do things yourselves, however are we setting the children up for future successes if we aren’t teaching them the skills they may need later?

By allowing, and encouraging, the children to assist with various tasks, we are setting them up with a sense of importance and belonging, as well as promoting confidence and self-esteem; even building on their problem solving, motivation and perseverance – things that are crucial for the future through school, friendships and even work.

Some of the many ways that we help encourage independence at 360 include:

  • Taking off their own shoes prior to bed
  • Pulling their pants up and down (crucial for when starting to toilet train)
  • Picking up toys
  • Using a tissue
  • Using cutlery to eat
  • Using cups at mealtimes
  • Scraping their plates after eating
  • Accessing their bags and lockers to collect/ return their belongings

Another way to encourage independence is around decision making (within reason!).  Sometimes this may be between a few provided options such as ‘would you like to play inside, or would you like to put on your hat and play outside?’  This allows your child to feel heard and listened to and be able to provide input within the options that you deem appropriate.  There may be consequences that the children will have to factor in too – in the above example if they don’t want to wear a hat – that’s ok; however they will need to play inside.  Other ways to encourage your child’s decision making is to allow them the autonomy to listen to their bodies and work out what they need.  For example, ensuring they always have access to drinking water. Whilst you may need to remind them occasionally to have a drink; we want to teach the children to drink when they feel their body needs it; not just because someone has told them to.

At home your child could also help with the dishwasher, sweeping, and even the washing; loading it into the machine and helping to hang out and fold the smaller items.