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How to Raise an Independent Child

  • • 8 MIN READ 📖
How to Raise an Independent Child

Raising children is an art. A kind of science, if you want. As an artist, you need to add shades of love and care while as a scientist, you have to provide the right environment for development with rewards, punishments, and strict rules.

Raising an independent kid is always about finding a “golden mean” between freedom and giving them everything they want. There’s some popular sentiment that too much affection, love, and warmth might make a little one ‘clingy’ on the one hand and too attached to parents on the other. Below, we’ll figure out how to raise an independent child while keeping the family sane.

Importance of Fostering Independence in Preschoolers

In the case of preschoolers (ages 4-6), kids are ready for independence like never before. Do you need help with the laundry thing? Or, perhaps, their room looks like it's the end of time where garbage is all that has survived (Friends sitcom will really understand)? You’ve got a dedicated helper now! While doing the dishes or sweeping the floor might sound like nothing special, these routine actions might actually fuel up confidence and independence in your child.

Why is fostering independence in preschoolers as crucial as the other milestones?

  • First, it helps your pumpkin become a good decision-maker in the future. No getting stuck in indecision – the choices will be made consciously and deliberately. 
  • Second, independence is about having the freedom to experience life fully and learn its lessons freely. 
  • Third, independence serves as fuel for motivation. Knowing they’re free to come up with their own reasons for doing something, the kiddos are more eager to take action.
  • Finally, independence leads to a happy healthy life. Feeling a strong sense of success and accomplishment due to their own actions, preschoolers become the embodiment of joy.
independent toddler

When Do Children Become Independent

Don’t worry. You don’t have to make your toddler get a driver's license. At the age 2-4, the little ones are ready (they actually show interest!) to try autonomy and deal with some house responsibilities. See kids pretending to be you? The moment they start playing “driving a car” or “family,” it’s time to provide opportunities to act independently. At the same time, 6-8-year-olds have mastered most self-care routine rituals. They are definitely ready for more complex roles or home tasks. Congrats! You've got an independent child.

How to Change My Kid from Dependent to Independent

So, you’re a happy parent ready to raise an independent, responsible, and happy child? Excellent. But…How do you teach your kid independence when spilled milk, don’t-put-that-in-your-mouth, sudden crying, or wallpaper drawings are still on the list?

Here are some age-appropriate kid-independent activities that will help you all enjoy these joyful years, as well as raise independent individuals while keeping a connection with them.

Independent Activities for Toddlers

By now, you’re already forearmed with the tools that make encouraging independence in toddlers easier. You know their favorite food, toys, preferences, and even opinions on the issues from the unicornfish universe. The reality is that independence is developing itself, which means you can just provide the right environment for progress. Try some independent activities for toddlers given below:

  • Incorporating wooden stacking toys in playtime. Produced with eco-friendly materials, stacking toys are just fascinating in the tots’ eyes! The trick lies in repetition that excites the little so much. They try their strength and see progress as the tower goes up while feeling pride when the job is done without parental involvement.
  • The benefits of puzzles in early childhood are as undeniable as they are for those young at heart. Learning colors, shapes, or sizes comes hand-in-hand with the sense of independence as the last puzzle piece finds its place.
  • Let children choose. Is it a dress or cute jeans with sequins? Now, make sure they decide! Rather than doing it yourself, empower young ones to pick out their favorite dolls, LEGO series, snacks, cartoons, weekend fun, etc.
  • Give age-appropriate chores. Whether it’s feeding a chinchilla or handing you clothes for the laundry, these small to-dos will teach young helpers what responsibility and commitments are.
  • Arrange playdates. Foster independence in a toddler by letting them develop relationships outside the family gang. If you’re a first-time parent lost in fear of what-ifs, start with a buddy from your neighborhood. Let children meet each other, share toys, start a fight and eat sand together as a gesture of conciliation.
wooden stacking toys

Independent Activities for 4-Year-Olds

At this age, the young one is ready for the fun like climbing the play structure all by themselves, riding a bike, and getting on that swing without you prying. They’re so proud of that and are ready for more independence. So cheer them on and encourage for something new:

  • Reading is among the most popular independent activities for 4-year-olds. They start learning to write/read at this time, so buy some of the books they like. Do they get upset because of the mistakes they make on the way? Teach them that’s part of the process that they should learn from, not dwell on.
  • Attend day/sleepaway camp. Why? There are no parents! Besides, it’s a perfect first ‘dress rehearsal’ for the future college life away from home usually associated with homesickness.
  • If there’s a little fashionista in your family, teach her to take care of their outfits. Let kiddy pick out clothes, as well as arrange stuff using tools like a wardrobe, shelf, or a Montessori clothes rack. They know it’s their personal fashion haven now where freedom thrives together with independence.
  • Brushing teeth is a must. Everyone knows it. However, many kiddos put the e-toothbrush in their mouths and just zone out while the motor works pointlessly. While most dentists recommend supervising the process until the little patient turns 7, here’s a compromise for a Tooth Fairy’s client: they brush their teeth in the morning while you can assist with the evening brush.
  • Music lessons are 100% advantageous for all ages. When it comes to 4-year-olds, it’s a perfect chance for little rock stars to feel like they have their own business outside the family circle.
independent kid

Independent Activities for 5-Year-Olds

They have already started kindergarten. They know the features you didn’t know your iPhone actually had. Plus, they are so into anything that makes them feel like competent citizens in the adult land. Watch 5-year-olds closely while providing with more room for independent routine:

  • Use microwave together. Oh, this is just grandiose! Not only will children learn the numbers faster while pressing the buttons, but they will also feel like grown-ups. Show what they should never put in the microwave and see the excitement in their eyes as the little finger presses “Start.”
  • The point here is that kitchen roof activity that 5-year-olds can join or imitate with the right tools at hand. Many experts in kids’ development insist on the importance of kitchen pretend play Well, why not? Let the cooking mystery begin! Set up a wooden play kitchen, get some safe kids’ knives, a hat, an apron, and…who knows, perhaps sooner than you know, you’ll get your very first bill from Le Cordon Bleu?
  • Vacuuming the floors is something most adults hate while being one of the most common independent activities for 5-year-olds. Take advantage of the situation! They’ll have some extra fun while you’ll have a shorter to-do list.
  • Just like failures, conflicts are part of everyday life. Teach preschoolers to work out conflicts without you advocating for them. They’ll deal with their emotions as they find the way to handle the situation they are stuck in with the gaggle of stubborn 5-year-olds. An essential life-long habit, let’s be honest.
kitchen pretend play

Independent Activities for 6-Year-Olds

Oh, they grow up so fast! They’re up for more opportunities while you feel ready to provide more independence. Excellent! Don’t forget, however, that watching them is necessary for keeping children safe. 

Independent activities for 6-year-olds might include the following scenarios:

  • How about a solo play in the front yard? If it’s the first time you let children leave the house alone, the front yard is the right place. Faster than you think, your honey will make some new friends and bring home stray cats.
  • By this age, they can enjoy a bubble bath themselves. In other words, you don’t sit by the tub but constantly peek inside like an invisible ninja making sure the child is alright.
  • Set little artistic souls free by letting your kiddie arrange their space based on their tastes. Supply what they might need in the process: toy storage, nursery wall shelves, a cozy armchair, bookcases, etc. Before you announce the artistic freedom era, ensure the kid knows it’s not about legally turning the room into a mess but rather experimenting with room decoration.  
  • Let kids have a sleepover. As long as they can sleep without their parents, let them call their BFF for a sleepover. Or, as an alternative, they can stay at their friend’s place for the night. Both ways are good only after some “preparation.” Make sure the little ones understand inappropriate touching. Talk about the so-called body boundaries. Actually, it’s the right time to teach kids that only they are the bosses of their own bodies, as well as private parts. Note:  Keep your phone nearby – kids change their minds in a flash (be ready for a late-night take-me-home-now drive!).

What Should a 7-year-old Be Able to Do Independently

Pre-teens are so ready for adventures! They have their passions, interests, and courses they’d like to chart at the moment. Give them more freedom for their own world navigation and taking control over things they can control.

  • Let them help you with dinner. By this age, young lady or gentlemen is good at breaking eggs, loading the dishwasher, peeling veggies/fruits using a peeler, etc. 
  • Supervise how they tie their shoes. Their motor skills are strong enough for the movements involved in cutting paper with scissors, unbuttoning, and tying their shoes.
  • Dressing up/doing make-up is a worthwhile thing for most girlies. At the same time, dress-up games let little fashionistas try different roles, explore ideas, boost imagination, etc. Let them have fun while playing with makeup tools and trying different colors. See how they set up a home fashion show and do the catwalk in various outfits. Tell them how beautiful they are. Show your love! Even if you’re mad at them because that mascara costs a fortune.
  • Go shopping together. Next time you’re at the grocery store, let them pick out anything from the list you made at home. Even if you’re keeping an eye on a little shopper, choosing her favorite chocolate milk is a huge event that makes her feel independent. 
independent preschooler

The most challenging part for you as a parent? Probably, seeing them fail and…letting them. Without teleporting next to your child in a second to un-do, fix, or handle the consequences of the situation. Your task is to be there for them without judging, prying, demoralizing, or trying to act as if nothing happened. Teaching that it’s OK to get up and try again will give them self-confidence together with the courage to try new things, face the failures, and gain what it all is about – independence.

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