Here are some ways to help your child gain independence throughout their daily life.
It is very important for all children to have some independence in their lives. Independence helps build self-confidence and makes children feel good about themselves. Giving your child options throughout the day empowers them. Here are some techniques to consider:
- Picking out an outfit for school can be a chore, especially in the morning when you are in a rush. Try laying out two appropriate school outfits the night before and let the child pick which one to wear the next day. They may need help putting on the outfit, but they can feel confident because they chose it.
- Another place for gaining independence is in the bathroom. Let your child do tasks that fit their functioning level. Any task will help with gaining independence. It might be flushing the toilet, putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush, or brushing their teeth by themselves. Let your child pick out barrettes to wear or brush their own hair if they can.
- Bathing is another good area to work on. If they are able, let your child put the soap on the washcloth and scrub their hair a bit. After the scrub, you can do some finishing up and the rinsing. My daughter liked pulling the plug out of the bathtub when she was done taking a bath. This helped her gain some independence and a little bit of confidence that she was able to do some things by herself.
- Don’t forget the kitchen! Eating and food preparation can help your child gain independence. Offer them two food options and let them pick one. You can prepare it or they can help make it. Let them work on self-feeding with finger foods or a spoon. It may get a little messy in the beginning, but that's okay, it will get better with time. The more practice they have, the better their skills will get.
These are a few ideas to help you get started working with your child toward becoming more independent. Independence is an important factor in building confidence and self-esteem. In return, this can help with behavior. It can also help lead to fewer power struggles which makes happier parents and happier children.
For additional tips for helping your child gain independence, check out Navigating Daily Life – Parenting Children with Disabilities.