Promoting Independence in Preschoolers ~ By: Aroma Pannu

posted Sep 21, 2013, 11:47 PM by   [ updated Sep 25, 2013, 12:49 AM ]

While 4-year-olds still need plenty of parental help, they are typically able to do more than many of us think. Here are a few ways you can encourage them to become more independent:

1. Expect more. Most people have a way of living up (or down) to expectations -- preschoolers included. Raise the bar and your child will probably stretch to meet it.

2. Resist doing for her what she can do herself. While it may be quicker and easier to do it yourself, it won't help to make your child more self-sufficient. Quick hint: Appeal to their sense of pride and ask your child, ''Do you want me to help you or can you do it yourself?''

3. Don't redo what they've done. If your child makes her bed, resist the urge to smooth the blankets. If she dresses herself in stripes and polka dots, compliment her "eclectic" style. Unless absolutely necessary, don't fix what your child accomplishes. She will notice and it may discourage her.

4. Let them solve simple problems. If you see your child trying to assemble a toy or get a book from a shelf that they can reach if they stand on a step-stool, pause before racing over to help. When you give children a moment to solve things for themselves, you help them get the most of character-building moments.

5. Assign a chore. Putting your preschooler in charge of a regular, simple task will build their confidence and sense of competency. A child who is entrusted to water the plants or empty the clothes dryer is likely to believe that they can also get dressed themselves or pour their own cereal. Just be sure the chore you assign is manageable and that it's real work, not busywork, since even preschoolers know the difference.

The goal is to make your children feel like capable, contributing members of the family and to watch them spread their wings and grow.