The 6 Things Kids Really Need (part 6)

I was reading Woman's Day Magazine the other day while sitting on the porch watching the boys play the other day.  I came across an article that I loved, and as I read it it screamed.... BLOG POSTS!

The title of the article is The 6 things kids really need, and one they don't.  Just the title made me say... ok what is this all about?  One thing I liked was the fact that all of the points were backed up with statements from doctors, be in PhDs of MDs it was people who are in a field working with children.  I decided to take each of these 6 items that kids need, and the one they don't and blog about it and how I feel it plays a role in my life.  I will post these for the next 7 Saturdays... read along if you want or even better read the article yourself and reflect on your own blog.   

#1 I love you's.  
#2 Structure and Limits 
#3 Conversation 
#4 Something Shared
#5 Playtime 

# 6 Independence

This is one area that a lot of parents struggle with especially when their children are young.  We often say we want our children to be independent, to do things on their own, but then find ourselves doing things for our children.  It is often faster and more efficient to do things ourselves rather than let the children to figure it out on their own.  But, a big huge part of being a parent is preparing our children to live life as an adult.  As an adult, there isn't someone following us around picking up the pieces and/or telling us how to do every little thing.  We need to gently guide our children to make the right choices, but we also need to let them try things on their own... and fail.  

I try to let my sons do little things on their own.  I try to guide them into making good choices, but know that they need to learn to make good choices on their own.  Now, at 2 and 3 I'm not going to let them choose when to go to bed, how to cross the street or even when to watch tv.  But, I will let them choose what stories to read, what computer games to play, what shirt to wear, and things like that.  I praise them when they do things on their own.  I often say... see I knew you could do it without me or see you can do it, you don't need my help.  When children master small things at a young age, and learn that they can make these choices and decisions without your help they are more willing to try things on their own.

I can't tell you how often I came across students who felt they needed someone to "hold their hand" through each step... simple and hard thing through the day.  They lacked the confidence to try things on their own.  And, more often than not when I watched them with their parents the parents did EVERYTHING for the child.  This is such a disservice to the child.   Children who learn independence at a young age gain confidence and see themselves as someone who can do it... not as someone who needs help to do things.   

When you start early helping children make simple choices and play independently, then they begin on the path of independence.  With the guidance of loving parents, we show them the parameters within which they can successfully accomplish these independent choices and decisions.  This also allows them to see that they can learn from their mistakes and you will be there no matter if the choice is right or wrong... but you praise them for making the choice. 

Let your child do something on their own today... show them that you trust them to make independent decisions and will be there to praise them or help pick up the pieces.

Favorite quote: Doing things independently is very important for a child, says Dr. Steinberg, because children feel confident when they feel competent.



  1. I know you are super good at this step. All three of my kids are almost too independent. I wish they were a little more clingy. LOL But they do great in school & with other people & their I must have done something right.

  2. I totally agree with this...although sometimes it's hard for me to give up control and let them do it themselves! What can I say, I'm a control freak! It's something I'm working on.

    Thanks for the advice. I will let them do something "independent" today, and everyday! Even if it's just one thing.....

  3. This is something that I totally agree with, yet have had to really be concious of letting go of control. I have, however, used it as justification to other parents who say they can't understand how I could possibly let my boys walk to school alone. I need to trust them, don't I? To me, that is really, really important.


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