Embrace Independence in Your Children

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.

A child’s independence is going to depend on their age. Obviously a four year old can practice being independent much differently than a one year old. Babies are much different in terms of independence and how much they need. For each age, there are a several ways to embrace and allow independence in your child.
  • 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.
What activities do your children do on their own? Are they given the chance to be independent? Do they have quiet play time every day where they are encouraged to play alone? I would love to hear ideas of what your kids are doing! Lucas has been playing happily and quietly in his pack n’ play with a book for 4 minutes now. I think we have a record.

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

13 thoughts on “Embrace Independence in Your Children

  1. I 100% agree! Independence is something to embrace, especially when it comes to babies and mostly toddlers. If not given the chance to be independent, children may get an inferiority complex.

    Embrace independence all the way!

  2. i just love the kind of mommy you are so much!

    i got misty just an hour ago because jordan was playing by himself in his room while i put his clothes away and did the diaper drawer, etc.
    he pulled himself up in front of his toy box and was pulling stuff out, tasting toys, throwing some aside, sometimes he'd stand there without holding on with a toy in each hand just looking at them. i loved just watching. i even took a couple photos. this post really struck a chord with me, i guess because of that.

  3. I think it's super important to be independent. Ingrid always loves to have her alone time reading or quietly playing, and I love it because I can take a second to unwind. We all need that time to ourselves 🙂

  4. I completely agree! Though, it was so hard for me at first. I felt like I wasn't being interactive enough because I wasn't in my sons space 24/7 – I guess that's just part of being a new Momma and learning. He really can play by himself, entertain himself, and learn new things himself, and it's NOT because I'm a bad Mom. He's just doing what kids are supposed to do- learn! Thanks for posting these great thoughts.

  5. Aidan has always been super independent- at age 1 he was wanting to play with the big kids at the park on the jungle gym! I let him and he hasn't looked back since! Emerson is almost the same way, except that she likes to play by herself most of the time. We really encourage our kids to take an hour or two of independent play time in their rooms- not in the living room- where they can play by themselves or together, but not with Mama or Daddy. We don't ignore them if they want us in there, of course, but we try to get them involved in something so that we can do things like fold laundry and wash dishes!

    Now that Aidan is 2, I have him do his own “chores” like feeding the dog, picking up his toys, putting away his laundry and picking out his clothes. It's sometimes crazy but always fun!

  6. I'm doing much better about cringing when my daughter dresses herself. Its been about 4.5 years since she's started and her fashion sense has not improved over the years!

  7. It is amazing to see how early children “pull away”. Mine loves to explore and just truck across the living room floor…putting whatever he can find in his mouth (sigh). I haven't been able to leave him alone in his independence (he is, after all, only 8 months) but there is no stopping him! I have had so many people comment “Well, he knows his own mind!” (Well, shouldn't he?) and ” You're really in for it when he's older.” (I hope I'm up to the challenge but feel free to pray for me;) ) He does however stop every few moments just to make sure Mommy or Daddy is still watching him 🙂

  8. Great article! I really needed that reminder, because sometimes you get mama guilt and feel like you're “supposed to” be with them every second. I have always been an independent one as well, my mother says I came that way, and I would feel smothered if I didn't have time to myself. It's all about finding a balance of giving them the space they need to grow, but setting the right limits so they can succeed.

    I love to let my daughter pick out her own diaper. The diaper drawers are easy for her to reach and she loves to pick the color or pattern she wants to wear. Sometimes if it's naptime or bedtime and we need a really thick diaper I'll give her a choice between two. She loves it!

    I also let her choose what she wants to play with, although I guide her or challenge her at times to create some structure. The only issue we sometimes stumble on is getting things that are off limits out of her reach. You always think you've baby proofed, but they always let you know what you missed!

  9. Lauren loves to look at pictures and I am so afraid that she will mess them up so my mom had a great idea to put them in a sturdy album for her. Now she will sit and look through her “book” and get so excited by what she sees. She also is so great with her baby dolls. I love to just sit back and watch her play with them and take care of them.

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