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Cultivating Independence Through Routine: Establishing Daily Routines that Encourage Independence and Self-Care Skills

From the moment a child is born, they try to discover their independence. This is made quite clear when babies try to feed themselves with a spoon, take off their diapers, or when toddlers want to dress themselves or turn on the sink tap.

When we think about our toddlers running for the step stool, climbing up, and then trying to pour themselves a glass of milk, it’s hard not to groan. And those who work in a Silver Spring preschool know that when you let kids do things, they usually make things messier and it takes twice as long. It can also be hard to see your child try and fail, making you angry or sad.

Why Independence Matters

The freedom to do things on their own is one of the best gifts we can give our kids. Teaching kids to be independent is vital for their growth and success from the time they take their first tentative steps until they spread their wings and fly off into the world by themselves.

Teaching kids to be independent doesn’t just mean teaching them how to make their beds and tie their shoes. It also means giving them the confidence, strength, and skills to handle life’s challenges.

How Do Routines Help Children Grow Independence?

Just like adults, kids feel safer and more confident when they know what they’re going to do each day. A regular daily plan and step-by-step routines help kids understand what to expect from each day. Following set schedules and routines at home or at a preschool in Silver Spring not only helps foster kids’ independence but also helps build their confidence and sets them up for success.

Happy toddler girl in pyjamas brushing her teeth in bathroom

How Do You Cultivate Independence in Children?

One of the hardest things a parent faces is figuring out how to encourage independence in their children. Routines and age-appropriate tasks are just two ways you can help encourage independence in your child. Responsibilities and independence are crucial for building a child’s confidence, but they also help kids learn important life skills.

Predictable Routines

It may come as a surprise, but making a regular schedule is an important part of growing up independent. Knowing what they have planned for the day is good for kids and adults alike. It makes them more accountable. A routine is any set of things that happen at the same time every day. It’s different from a plan, though the two may overlap.

Kids at home and at our preschool in Silver Spring, MD, get used to these routines over time so they know what is next. This helps them take on more responsibility with less help. If you let your child do some of the prep work, your child will be able to do more of these steps on their own. You’re also letting them know that you believe they can complete these steps on their own, but you’re still there for them if they need you.

Give Kids Choices

Giving children choices is another way to help them become independent. Let them help you choose what to wear, what to play, or who to call. They don’t have to be free to do whatever they want. Give them two or three choices, and then tell them how smart they are for picking one! When your toddler insists on doing something their way, giving them choices is very helpful.

little girl playing and exploring outside

Age-Appropriate Chores

Don’t be afraid to give toddlers and preschoolers age-appropriate chores. Even though these tasks will look different from things older kids do, they are still important steps toward bigger jobs. Many studies show that giving kids chores can help them develop their sense of responsibility and self-reliance, as well as their executive functions, their ability to work with others, and their empathy.

Your child can feel responsible by doing simple things like picking up toys or putting clothes in the basket. This will help keep things organized during the day. You can even make these chores a part of your daily life.

Allow Kids to Help

Whether at home or preschool, one thing kids love to do is help! Giving them a feeling of control is a great way to calm temper tantrums or change behavior, as well as helping them become more independent. You give your child a chance to learn something new and boost their confidence when you let them help. This might require an extra step or two, but it’s a great way to include your child in daily activities and habits.

Let Kids Solve Small Problems

Let your kid do hard things and figure out minor problems on their own. We often put our stress or anger on our kids when, in reality, they are just happy trying to figure things out. As kids learn to crawl or walk, they need to be able to fall. Also, we should let kids put their shoes on the wrong feet when they are learning how to do it. Only help or give tips to help your child once they ask for it.

If you give your child tasks that are a little hard but still within the range of what they can do with some aid, your child will learn how to deal with frustration, solve problems, and stick it out in tough situations. By letting your child know that something is hard, you can let them know that you are proud of them for trying new or hard things.

Child reading book in bed in the dark with a flashlight.

Give Children Space

Kids need space to develop and learn. If they are not given space to do things on their own, their chances of becoming independent are drastically reduced. Encourage self-reliance by allowing your child to explore freely. If kids play in another room, let them do so without you; if you must check in, try to be inconspicuous. If you see a problem with a sibling or friend, allow them the opportunity to resolve it constructively before intervening.

Don’t Overcorrect

If you can help it, don’t correct your child when they are trying to do something on their own. Remember that being perfect isn’t the point. Your child should be able to handle things on their own. They will only want to take another chance if they feel like they’re doing it right every time.

Final Thoughts

Parents and others who provide infant care in Silver Spring, MD, need to help them become independent from a very young age. This means letting kids discover, try new things, and learn on their own while still being there for them when they need help or advice. Also, it means letting kids fail and make mistakes, knowing that these things are necessary for growth and development.

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