Many kids naturally hit an independent stage, but some children hold back in certain situations, preferring to stay near a parent instead of tackling the situation solo. An independent child feels confident in his ability to tackle a task, is self-motivated and knows how to make decisions, according to "Psychology Today." The way you treat your child and encourage his independence affects how comfortable he feels when he doesn't have mom and dad to do something for him.
- Create a loving, secure home environment based on respect. This type of environment supports your child's efforts toward reaching a new goal. If a child doesn't feel a sense of safety and love, she may avoid taking the risks necessary to become independent.
- Set boundaries and teach your child basic safety so you feel comfortable allowing independence. Parents often inhibit independence out of fear. For example, your child misses out on the chance to act independently if you are afraid to allow solo outside play time or walking to a neighbor's house alone. Teaching your child how to observe surroundings, stay in a certain area and go inside if something suspicious happens makes you feel more comfortable allowing more independence.
- Teach your child basic skills that allow him to become independent. Teach him self-care skills, such as taking a bath or shower on his own. When he gains mastery of those basic skills, he has a foundation for trying more complex tasks. A child who learns how to serve himself at home may feel more comfortable serving himself at a friend's house or learning to prepare meals, for example.
- Support your child's efforts as she learns a new task without doing everything for her. When she learns to tie her shoes, have her follow along on each step as you tie your shoes. Give her verbal hints to make the task easier. Take a hands-off approach if possible so she can try on her own.
- Allow your child to take risks and make mistakes. Let your child pour his own milk despite the chance of spilling. If he does spill, stay calm and help him clean it up instead of yelling or getting angry.
- Support your child's growing independence by making the house more child-friendly. Scholastic suggests installing low wall hooks so child can hang up her own coat and school bag or storing her toys and supplies low so she has access.
- Assign responsibilities to your child so he contributes to the household and learns life skills. Fulfilling those responsibilities you set, such as doing homework or chores around the house, gives your child a sense of achievement and confidence.
- Present your child with choices during the course of daily activities. Giving her decision-making power encourages her independence. Examples of decisions a child can make include clothing choice, snacks, play activities and who to invite to her birthday party.
- Encourage relationships with peers so your child has a network of friends that encourages him to play beyond the family.