The greatest gifts parents can give their children are a loving and supportive home environment, a well-rounded and challenging education and opportunities to exercise independence and self-reliance.

Well, love does make the world go round, we all know that. And we don’t need to explore the benefits of quality schooling here and now but why is independence so important?

We all strive to have well-rounded, normal and happy children and independence is often the key to that.

Independence is all about being able to manage oneself in a variety of situations and approaching and tackling different tasks on one’s own, with determination and perseverance.

However, in order to be independent, you have to believe that you can be and THAT is why we want to help children to develop this life skill.

The development of confidence is closely related to feelings of self-worth and the appreciation and understanding of one’s own innate ability.

How can we help to encourage confidence and independence?

Don’t do everything for your child. Allow him to perform appropriate tasks for himself. It can be time-consuming sometimes but completing them for him is for your benefit, not his. And the feelings of mastery and pride in completing chores BY HIMSELF will build self-worth.

Give her the responsibility of routine household tasks, to be carried out every day and over lengthy periods of time, i.e. a term perhaps? All children should help with chores like clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, feeding the dog, putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket, etc. (And there is a good subliminal message about appreciating and respecting home-help by assisting and making their work easier.)

It is good for your child to experience success and failure. If she fails, help her to understand that “Try, try and try again” is a necessary part of learning competency. And “If you make a mistake, that is okay. You can usually fix it but sometimes you need to start all over again”; children need to learn that life can be challenging but that with perseverance and determination most things can be overcome.

Your role is to encourage and guide. Sometimes a reward system can motivate your child but don’t fall into the trap of rewarding every helpful act, some things should be done just “for love”.

Don’t over-protect your child. He will then find the real world overwhelming and very challenging. And are you cosseting because he needs it, or because you need him to need you?! The effects of over-protection can be as damaging to development as neglect.

Don’t baby your child. She may appear to be “too small” but she is in fact a very capable little person with innate potential that needs to be explored and developed. For example, experience has proven that delayed toilet training has a negative impact on self-image and feelings of self-worth. Delay coming out of nappies too long and your child may begin to believe that she is incapable of any challenging task as she is “too small” …. (A generous benchmark for being out of both daytime and nighttime nappies is ±3 years. Are you keeping your child in nappies for your benefit?)

Avoid indulging your child’s every desire. Whilst instant gratification is a societal norm today, children should learn that we cannot have everything we want, IMMEDIATELY. Things that are worked for and waited for are all the more valuable in attaining.

Allowing independence encourages initiative and creative thinking, which leads to imaginative problem-solving and lateral thinking; these are aspects of intellectual development that will serve the child throughout life.

So, grit your teeth and let your child DO IT!