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Growing Independence: Tips for Parents of Young Children

young child learns how to brush his teeth with his mother

Young children can be a handful, as every parent knows. As your youngster has developed from an infant to a toddler and now to a young child, it seems he is slipping out of your hands and is ready to take on the world. Though this step, in both your life and his, can seem scary, it is also exciting, and there are things you can do to make the best of it. As a parent, we all wish to raise pleasant, polite and, eventually, independent kids. This all starts when the child is young, as some of the most important life lessons and teachings stem from parenting.

Independence

Preparing your child to be independent is a full-time job – from teaching them how to walk, feed themselves and talk, and then teaching them how to bathe, dress and function as a little human on their own. When teaching your children to be independent and care for themselves, patience and practice is absolutely necessary. Starting off simple is usually the best way to go, as all of this is new to your children. Guiding them through the steps of taking a bath and dressing themselves at night or in the morning has to be done consistently on a regular basis and eventually they will want to do it alone.

Routines

Having a daily routine is key to children becoming independent and functioning on their own. Routines help your child know what to expect, and help to prepare her to have a productive day. A morning routine might consist of brushing teeth, getting dressed and eating breakfast, maintaining the order daily. Keeping the nightly routine similar to their morning routine may be helpful as it will come more naturally to them to know steps are expected to be done.

Simple Rules

Your child’s safety is important. Though we want children to be friendly and respectful to others, teaching them to be cautious and careful is crucial. To ensure safety, discourage your child from talking to strangers. Be sure to discuss who they should turn to if they get lost, like a store employee with a uniform and nametag on, or a police officer. Other simple rules that should be taught are personal space (keep their hands to themselves) and having manners (saying please and thank you).

Children can sometimes experience phases of separation anxiety, which is normal as they grow up. If the separation anxiety becomes a problem, talk to their pediatrician about your concerns.

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