Your child might be your baby, but that doesn’t mean that you want them to act like a helpless infant forever. As your child begins to reach preschool age, you have started to learn that they are their own independent person from you. They have their own personality, likes, and dislikes. Now, it is time for them to learn the skills necessary to be independent. This doesn’t mean that you are going to be giving them the keys to the car anytime soon, but starting now with age-appropriate steps can help your child on the lifelong road to independence. By teaching them autonomy now, you can make sure that they have the emotional regulation skills necessary to face all the independent firsts that will come along soon, such as having sleepovers and joining extracurricular activities and riding the bus to school. In this blog, we will go over ways you can foster independence in your preschooler.
Let Them Play Freely
People are always over scheduling their children. This is probably well-intentioned; these parents just want to make sure that their child has ever advantage in life, so recreational sports, music lessons, dance classes, and even playdates can fill up the family’s calendar like that. However, this behavior backfires because it makes your child dependent on you to schedule every moment of their day. They aren’t learning how to make decisions on their own when you tell them exactly what they will be doing, when they are doing it. Make sure that you give your child free time to just be a kid. Let them explore their world and see how they would like to spend their time. Help your child become more independent by giving them the unstructured time they need to play pretend the way they want.
Let Them Solve The Problem Themselves
You are used to your child being an infant who needs you to do everything for them, but by preschool age, your child’s brain is developed enough to do some problem solving. When you see your child start to get frustrated over solving a puzzle or fixing a broken toy, you may want to jump to their rescue. However, if you do this, your child will turn to you to solve all their problems, and won’t be able to independently figure it out for themselves. Give your child the opportunity to solve the problem, and only step in after you give them the chance.
Give Them Choices
You can help your child to develop the critical thinking skills they need for independence by offering them choices. This doesn’t mean letting them decide where you will enroll them in preschool, but small choices that they can handle. But small, concrete choices are great for your child’s independence. For example, offer them the choice between the red and the blue sippy cup, or which t-shirt they will wear that day. Learning how to make small decisions now will help your child make bigger decisions in the future.
Give Them Responsibilities
Your child may be young, but they are not too young to do chores. Actually, giving them responsibilities now will help them in the future; imagine a child who actually does their own laundry! This would make the transition to college a lot smoother. There are many responsibilities around the house that are age-appropriate for your preschooler, such as sweeping, dusting, or making their bed. When children have responsibilities, it gives them a sense of agency and control, which makes them more independent people.
At Foundations for Learning, we are proud to offer a curriculum that can help your child become more independent. If you are looking for a preschool in South Windsor, contact us today for a tour!