Since I was young, I have always been very independent. I’m very social and I love people, but I also love doing my own thing and having time to myself. Being independent and being allowed to use my independence when I was little has played a huge role in the person that I am today. Part of this is a personality trait, and part of it is how my parents raised me. I’m so thankful that they allowed me to do things alone and embraced my independence.
Our children need us and depend on us, but that doesn’t mean that they need us every second. It’s okay if they play on the floor by themselves. It doesn’t mean you are depriving them of interaction time, it just means that they are playing alone. And that’s okay.
If we want our children to be confident, independent and aware of their own emotions we need to allow them to be independent. We need to create an environment where they can be independent in their own way. A home where playing by yourself is okay. A world where playing alone and independently is fun and full of self discovery.
The other day I witnessed my 8 month old being so independent I couldn’t believe it. We were at a play group, in a large room full of toys. He was crawling all over the place and doing his own thing. I just watched in amazement as he went over to a box full of plastic play sticks and took them out one by one. He banged them together and he threw them on the floor. I didn’t even know he could do that. Then he crawled over to the foam crawl toys and crawled through the hole in the pretend bridge. And here I was, looking at him like Honey! Look what you can do! Did you know you could do that? I have never sat him in a room full of toys and said “go.” At home he’s usually attached to my leg. He had never been given the opportunity to be independent or play like that. It’s so neat to see your kids, at any age, learn new things on their own and figure things out. Kids are amazing- we need to let them be their full potential!
You also sort of get this tingly feeling in your heart when you see your child reach a new discovery on their own or figure something out. Perhaps you might melt. Or shed a tear. Because your kid can crawl through a cut out hole in foam. Or maybe that’s just me, I don’t know.
It has been said that independent children grow up to be more confident, feel better about themselves and make better decisions.
We can teach our children to be independent by allowing them to make their own choices. We can guide them to find their own self and reach discovery. Right now, we are building the foundation for our kids so they can grow up with independence and the ability to make the best decisions.
- When they wake up from nap, let them be for a minute instead of rushing right in. Of course if they’re crying for you that’s a different story, but if they are happy and content playing- let them. Give yourself a few extra minutes of peace as well! Sometimes my son wakes up crying, other times he wakes up and will talk and play by himself in his crib for 5 or so minutes. I let him play and do his thing. When I hear his tone of “talk” change I go in and get him.
- Allow your child to decide what he wants to play with and how he wants to play. Instead of setting up an environment or saying, ” Here, play with these blocks,” just say “play.” They will figure out for themselves what they feel like playing with today.
- For older kids, let them do some “grow up” activities on their own sometimes. We live in a scary world, but we can’t hold their hand every minute. Of course use common sense and your own judgement, but give them a chance to be independent if they want to be and if the situation is safe. Let them walk across the street to get the mail or walk down the street to the school bus.
- When your child get’s dressed this morning, let them wear whatever they want. (Really!)
- Give your kids some jobs around the house. Challenge them a little with chores or activities they can do. If they mess it up or don’t do it your way, that’s okay. Making mistakes and learning is part of gaining independence.