Encouraging Independence with KidsThere comes a time when your kids won’t want your help anymore—sad, but true. If you try to help them with something they will cry, yell, throw a tantrum, tell you “no,” etc. Are you going through this right now? I’ve found that a lot of parents get their feelings hurt when this happens, which is completely understandable. You want to be able to be there to help your child always, and you want to feel needed by them. Here is the truth in the matter: if your child can’t learn independence from you, who will they learn from? This yearning for independence usually happens anywhere from 18 months to 2 years old, and can be very painful to endure 🙂

There are times when you should allow your child to try and do things independently, and other times when it is okay to tell them that this time you need to help them. Sometimes it can be difficult watching your child struggle, so encourage them to use the word “help” when they truly need your assistance.

Instances when it’s okay to give your child independence:

  • Meal times – allow your child to feed themselves more instead of being spoon fed. A lot of their food should be finger foods at this point anyway, but why not be bold and let them eat their yogurt by themselves with a spoon? I know from first-hand experience that this WILL be messy, so I’ve learned to let kids exercise their spoon skills right before bath time.
  • Climbing stairs – Of course NEVER let a small child climb the stairs completely unattended, but allow them to try and climb while you are holding their hand. Soon they will be able to climb unassisted and you can follow closely right behind them and “help” without them even knowing. This skill is important for their gross motor skills.
  • Putting clothes and shoes on – letting them dress themselves isn’t always an option 100% of the time, but sometimes it might be fun to take out some random clothes and let them practice.
  • Figuring out how toys work – let your child explore his or her toys and allow them to make mistakes when playing with the toys. If they are trying to put together some Legos but can’t seem to do it, allow them to at least try because they will never learn otherwise.


Here is my prime example of why guiding your child to independence is important: A 2 year-old that I care for LOVES Legos and has ever since he was 15 months old. Well, I would say he had a love/hate relationship with the Legos because sometimes those Legos would not cooperate and do what he felt they should be doing; therefore causing the Legos to be strewn about the playroom angrily.

His initial interaction with the Legos was to put all of them into different buckets, dumping and refilling them repeatedly. When he finally learned that the Legos could be snapped together to form a tower and other structures, they quickly became his favorite toy. He would get so angry when they wouldn’t snap together properly or fall apart when trying to add more. Instead of taking the Legos and fixing it for him, I encouraged him to learn the word “help” when he was getting frustrated, and I would have him hold the Legos in his hands while I guided him in fixing whatever needed to be fixed.

He just turned 2, and I would consider him a little Lego Expert now! What do you think:


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