Three independent kids lying under a large tree in autumn

How to raise independent kids

As we endeavour to raise our children to become confident and capable individuals, fostering independence plays a crucial role. Independence empowers children to think for themselves, solve problems, and take responsibility. In this article, we’ll explore what independence means and provide you with 16 actionable tips to help your kids develop this valuable trait. So, let’s dive in!


Defining independence

Independence is the ability to act, think, and make decisions for oneself, while taking responsibility for the outcomes. It involves nurturing a sense of self-reliance, resourcefulness and self-confidence in children. By encouraging independence, we equip our kids with essential life skills that will serve them well in their future endeavours.


How to develop independence in kids


1. Give them more responsibility

Begin by simply giving your child more responsibility. Assign age-appropriate chores and responsibilities to your child, such as tidying their room, feeding a pet, or helping with simple household tasks. This cultivates a sense of accountability and teaches them the importance of contributing to the family and community. Start off small and keep an eye on them if you need to. As they grow in confidence, give them more and more things to look after.


2. Encourage decision-making

We make hundreds of decisions every single day; sometimes they’re tiny, other times they really matter. Being independent requires you to make your own decisions and this needs both confidence and experience.

Involve your child in decision-making processes, allowing them to make choices within reasonable limits. Whether it’s selecting their outfits, deciding on weekend activities, or picking a book to read, providing opportunities for decision-making builds their sense of independence.


3. Encourage independence in daily tasks

Allow your child to take on age-appropriate responsibilities in their daily routine. Let them prepare their own breakfast, pack their school lunch, or organise their belongings. Gradually increase their autonomy in everyday tasks.

Encourage them to plan and prepare their own meals: Start with simple recipes and guide them through the process of meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. This teaches them self-sufficiency in meeting their nutritional needs.

Let them navigate public transportation: As they grow older, give your child the opportunity to travel on their own using public transportation. Teach them how to read maps, plan routes, and buy tickets. This builds their sense of independence and confidence in navigating the world.


4. Encourage goal-setting

Assist your child in setting achievable goals and breaking them down into smaller steps. Encourage them to track their progress and celebrate their achievements along the way. Goal setting nurtures their independence, motivation, and provides a sense of purpose.

Assign them a long-term project: Help your child choose a project that aligns with their interests, such as building a model, starting a garden, or writing a story. Guide them in setting goals, creating a timeline, and working independently to complete the project. This promotes self-directed learning and perseverance.


5. Teach problem-solving skills

Help your child develop problem-solving skills by encouraging them to brainstorm solutions to challenges they face. Ask open-ended questions, guide them in analysing the situation, and let them come up with their own creative solutions. This empowers them to tackle obstacles independently, giving them belief they can do things on their own.

Remember, instead of immediately solving every problem your child encounters, encourage them to find solutions on their own. Offer guidance and support as needed, but empower them to tackle the challenges they face, building resilience in the process.


6. Promote entrepreneurship

Starting a business requires you to choose your own path. Therefore, encourage your child to explore entrepreneurship as a way to develop decision-making skills and independence. Support their ideas for small businesses or projects, and guide them through the process of planning, budgeting, and executing their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Start a business: If your child shows signs of being a “kidpreneur“, embrace it. If they have an interest in starting a small business or selling handmade crafts, encourage and guide them through the process. Help them with market research, product development, and marketing.


A mother on a busy street with her young child, encouraging her to be independent.


7. Develop financial responsibility

Teach your child about money management and the value of saving, spending wisely, and giving back. Involve them in budgeting decisions and encourage them to set financial goals, such as saving for a special toy or contributing to a charity. This cultivates responsible financial habits and ties nicely into ideas around enterprise.

Have them manage their own budget: Give your child a set amount of money (or let them earn money for doing chores) and help them create a budget. Let them decide how to allocate their funds for different expenses, such as treats, toys, or savings. This activity promotes financial responsibility and decision-making skills.


8. Support them in getting a job

Many of the world’s most successful people had jobs when they were young. After they’ve outgrown mowing the lawn and washing the car for your neighbours, it might be time they got a real job. Even a part time job someone might get as a teenager can teach a whole raft of life skills, including independence. Having to turn up on time, interact with customers, work a till and manage their wages are excellent ways to learn the ropes of real life.

Try volunteer work: Something slightly different is to involve your child in community service activities or volunteer programs. Let them choose a cause they are passionate about and take responsibility for their involvement. This instills a sense of empathy and social responsibility.


9. Foster a growth mindset

Cultivate a growth mindset in your child by praising their effort, resilience, and progress rather than focusing solely on outcomes. Teach them that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth, and that with perseverance, they can overcome any hurdle. Carol Dweck has some excellent insights on this topic. If your child believes they can continue to grow and develop as a person, they’ll keep developing their independence.


10. Allow space for creativity

Provide your child with unstructured playtime, where they can explore their interests, experiment, and create without constant direction. Allowing them to engage in imaginative and creative activities fosters their independence and helps them develop their unique interests and talents.


11. Provide opportunities for risk-taking

Give your child the chance to take calculated risks and face challenges. Whether it’s trying a new sport, learning a musical instrument, or participating in a school project, encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. This builds resilience, problem-solving abilities, and self-belief.


12. Nurture critical thinking skills

Engage your child in discussions that promote critical thinking and decision-making. Encourage them to express their opinions, analyse different perspectives, and consider consequences before forming conclusions. This helps them develop independent thinking and sound judgment.


13. Foster a sense of curiosity

Support your child’s natural curiosity by encouraging them to ask questions, explore new subjects, and seek knowledge independently. Provide them with books, educational resources, and opportunities for experiential learning. Curiosity fuels a lifelong love of learning in whatever they find interesting.


14. Encourage sport and other hobbies

Support their involvement in extracurricular activities: Encourage your child to participate in activities like sports, clubs, or arts programs. This allows them to take ownership of their interests and develop skills independently while learning teamwork and time management.


15. Provide a supportive and open environment

Create a safe and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Listen actively, provide constructive feedback, and validate their opinions. This promotes independence, self-expression, and a sense of belonging.


16. Encourage self-care and reflexion

Guide your child in taking care of themselves by teaching basic self-care routines, such as personal hygiene, getting dressed independently, and packing their school bag. These habits promote self-sufficiency and independence in daily activities.


In summary

Fostering independence in our children is a gift that will benefit them throughout their lives. By implementing these 16 actionable tips, we can help our kids develop the confidence, resilience, and resourcefulness they need to thrive independently. Embrace the journey of raising independent kids and watch them grow into successful, self-reliant individuals. Here’s to a future of entrepreneurial spirits and independent thinkers!