Independent children feel competent and capable of taking care of themselves. Under their parent’s watchful eye, children are able to grow, flourish at their various stages of growth and development, and are more confident in being who they are. Here are a few simple tips on how to encourage independence in our children, even in a hospital setting, where the lack of freedom and control are quite difficult for many children to contend with.
1. Stop Doing Everything for Them
Although it may be easier to just do things yourself, this teaches your child nothing about the task at hand. Show them, teach them, and then let them handles things on their own. If they need help, they’ll ask for it. Confidence builds with independently created tasks.
– In a hospital setting- allow your child to feed or dress themselves, if possible.
– Allow them to ask questions of their doctors, nurses & caregivers.
– Caregivers may even allow the children to assist them with their care duties.
2. Love, Respect & Patience
Always show your child love, respect, and patience. When these components are present, a child’s confidence builds. As a result, they will be more apt to go off and try things on their own. If they know they are supported and will not be ridiculed for making mistakes, they will feel more encouraged to try things independently.
– For example: While in the healing process, your demonstration of love, respect, and patience may give your child the boost they need to regain fine and gross motor skills that may have been compromised during treatment.
3. Teach Them Life Skills
One day, your children will grow into healthy adults. And, when they do, they need to have basic life skills which include things such as cooking skills, laundry skills, money managing skills, banking skills, and the ability to follow through. Having this type of knowledge will help them grow into independent adults as well.
4. Give Them Responsibilities
Since everybody is living under the same roof and are making messes, everyone should be responsible for keeping the home clean. Chores will undoubtedly help teach your child valuable life skills, the value of hard work, responsibility, and respect for themselves and others.
– Since kids find comfort in routine, try implementing simple chores for them at the hospital as well. For example, they can help put away their art supplies into the proper bins or canisters (even while in bed). They can also help fold their clothing.
Household Chores By Age that May Help Build Independence
5. Show Confidence
Acknowledge your pride in their accomplishment. If your toddler washed their hands on their own after using the restroom, that deserves a thumbs-up! “I knew you could use the sink all on your own. Good job!”
6. Create an Independent Environment
Let your child figure things out. Using their own minds and capabilities to solve problems and accomplishment tasks is huge. Also, give them space when they need it. Alone time is healthy. It allows your child to gather their thoughts, think about their next move, and create a plan.
Creating an independent environment is a little more challenging in the hospital setting but it can be done.
– Allow your child to choose their meal from the menu of approved foods
– Allow them to pick out their clothes or pajamas for the day
– Allow them to choose their fun activity; coloring, book, painting, storytelling, etc.
– Giving them options for everyday things helps restore their sense of freedom & independence, even during their hospital stay.
7. Let Them Make Mistakes
Your child is going to make mistakes… it is inevitable! We all do. But guess what? That’s how we all learn. Show confidence in their abilities. Even if they make a mistake, and they will, tell them how proud you are of them for trying. This also lends itself to starting a healthy dialogue with them about what they learned and the possible solutions for next time.
*I helped create this list with the help from my friends & family members that are proud parents of AWESOME children.