Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

How to Teach Independence

03/06/2017 | Published by: Kelly Mastin

When we turned 18, we became legal adults. We grew up, we made our own choices. We were adults and lived the lives we wanted to live.

That is exactly how it’s supposed to be—how it’s meant to be.

Children need lots of guidance. As they get older, they gain more responsibilities, which carry with them new possible consequences. Eventually, thoughtful, wise parents literally work themselves out of a job.

It happens gradually, but it happens. Parents are always available to offer advice and guidance, but those parents allow their children to spread their wings and fly.

This natural order is also true for our children with disabilities. 

Maturation and gaining independence may not happen as soon as for other children, but the process is the essentially the same. Parents or other caregivers may always be especially involved in their child's life, but parents should aim to instill independence—whether our child has a disability or not.

Begin today. Expectations will vary per child, but aim high! It may not work this way for a child with complex needs or severe disabilities but you can still think of ways for them to gain some independence.

Ways to Teach Independence and Responsibility: 

  • Allow your child to order and pay for their own food at a restaurant.
  • Expect improvements in personal hygiene and household chores.
  • Allow your child to go into the grocery store to purchase a few items while you wait in the car or watch from a distance (even if you’re only 3 feet away).
  • Always train your child to increase skills: laundry, cooking, cleaning, navigating, using appliances.
  • Expect your child to manage his/her own money, pay bills, and make decisions about spending.
  • Expect your child to keep up with a calendar, set alarms, and organize their schedules.

Start your child on the way to independence and the freedom of adulthood. Work yourself out of your job of parenting and help your child spread their wings. 

Find more information on transition on this website.

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