10 Life Hacks to Help Your Child Be More Independent
Shop our Space Bunny
Sign-up to the Fresh Air Club to receive more Little Hotdog Watson tips + inspo and download our free adventure kit now.
Being responsible doesn’t always seem like much fun as an adult... Which means encouraging our children to be proactive can seem like a chore we don’t want to force on them. Here’s a look at 10 life hacks to help foster their independence from as early as toddlerhood, that they’ll actually enjoy:
Get them involved with daily life
It’s amazing how excited young children get about helping grown-ups do ‘important’ jobs around the house. Wiping up spillages, making the beds, helping lay the table - when you frames these tasks right from an early age, kids love it!
Think about how you can slip very simple chores into your daily routine as something you do together with a sense of pride or try asking them to join in when you’re cracking on with usually dull tasks like unpacking the food shop.
Use a sticker to help put the right shoes on
Find a large animal, character or fun shape sticker and cut it in half. Place the left side of the sticker in the left shoe and the right side of the sticker in the right shoe. Now when children place their shoes on the floor in the right position they complete the puzzle.
Make the kitchen child-friendly
Have plastic cups at child height so they can always get a fresh cup of water and set-up a healthy snack basket in your fridge so older children can help themselves. You could add a magnet to the back of cups and keep them on front of the fridge too.
Pause before stepping in to the rescue
If we want our children to be independent we need to resist rushing in at every opportunity (so hard at times!). Think about what your child is asking of you and whether there may be a way for them to figure things out for themselves. Use questions to encourage problem solving and proactivity. For example, ask “What do you think you could do to fix this?” or “How do you think it works?”
Use a safety sticker to get children to stay in place outside your car
These clever stickers have been designed to give kids a safety spot when you need to help younger siblings out of the car but you don’t want older children running away. Ask them to stay standing with one hand on their sticker at all times. You could also use the fuel flap as a handy safety marker.
Image: Safe Hands Car Stickers
Give plenty of specific praise
Kids want nothing more than to be praised by the people they love - making it great for confidence building. To make praise most powerful, try to be as specific as possible with what you are praising. Instead of ‘good job’ try ‘I love the way you kept trying!’ When our children feel they’re doing a great job they’ll be encouraged to keep practising and learning how to do things for themselves.
Give them choices you're happy with either way
Children want a sense of control. Help them be in charge by offering plenty of two choice options throughout the day - carefully give options which you will be OK with either way.
Let them get messy and take risks
Messy play is not every parent's cup of tea... And risky play can be even harder to allow. Tree climbing, rough and tumble, playing with rocks and mud. But adventure is important to child development, wellbeing and making special memories. It allows them to see what is really possible for them and provides natural opportunities for challenge - which they’ll need for long term independence.
Build confident table manners with the right cutlery
If your children are ready to use a knife, fork and spoon then these cutlery sets from Nana’s Manner have been designed to boost independence and making eating with utensils fun and comfortable. The Nana’s Manners conversations cards look brill too, made to boost your child’s confidence and encourage conversation at dinner time.
Teach them this way of tying shoe laces!
Learning to tie their shoe laces is a big milestone. Help them learn how with ease by following this top tip from an independent five-year-old:
If you like this blog, you may also like: A Guide to Raising Independent, Confident Kids
Easy ways to get outdoors as a family