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8 tips for teaching kids to be more independent.


1. Give notice 
Get your child on board by encouraging her to help “you” change. When Williams realized she was doing way more for her son than was necessary, she told him, “I’m sorry. I’ve been treating you like a little kid when you are ready to do some big-kid jobs!” She warns against using phrases like “You’re not a baby anymore”; baby can be a sensitive word in this age group.



2. Identify opportunities
Make a list of things she could be doing herself. Mine had 13 tasks, including brushing her teeth (gah!). Ask her which duties she feels she’s big enough to take on—it’s likely to increase her willingness to try.

3. Target priorities 
Tackle one item at a time, so you don’t overwhelm her.

4. Make time 
If it takes her 10 minutes to brush her own hair, start your morning 10 minutes earlier (and put down the brush!). When she’s not being micromanaged, she may surprise you with her co-operation, and you’ll be a calmer influence when you’re not racing against the clock.

5. Negotiate compromise
If she digs in her heels, compromise and inject some fun. For a few days, I took shirt duty, and she did the bottoms. I said that her tree branches (arms) needed their leaves (her shirt) and that she did a great job—and would also be awesome at putting on her own shirt.

6. Forget perfection
Accept that she won’t do the task as well as you. If the milk spills, show her how to clean it up without criticism and assure her it happens to everyone.

7. Praise something 
Instead of pointing out that her shoes are on the wrong feet, say, “You put on your own shoes! Good job!” She’ll discover the discomfort on her own. Give positive follow-up like, “I bet you’ll get them on the right feet tomorrow.”

8. Consider circumstances
If kids are tired, sick, stressed or adjusting to a change, it’s not the time to introduce new responsibilities. And don’t be discouraged if they regress, wanting you to do a task after they’ve mastered it. This is normal. Temporarily sharing the load can help them bounce back more quickly than if you scold or criticize them.
Don’t rush in to solve minor issues when they crop up, says psychologist Jeanne Williams. Encourage your child’s problem-solving skills by asking if she can come up with a fix. If she’s stumped, give her time to think before offering up your ideas.

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