backup og meta

Teaching Your Child To Be Independent: A Guide For Parents

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 14, 2022

Teaching Your Child To Be Independent: A Guide For Parents

Teaching your child to be independent is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood. You need to find a balance between letting them do things independently and making sure the tasks are not too complex; otherwise, they might get discouraged. In this article, we’ll talk about the activities that encourage independence in preschoolers.

Remember: Each Family Is Unique

Before we enumerate the activities that encourage independence in children, here’s a little reminder: no two families are alike.

Family A may allow their 4-year-old to ride a bike alone in the neighborhood, while Family B may insist on watching over their 5-year-old as they play with friends. Does it mean that the 4-year old child is “more independent” than the older kid?

Not necessarily.

You see, Family A may live in a friendly, tight-knit neighborhood away from busy streets, and Family B’s child might still be experiencing separation anxiety.

The bottom line is, teaching your child to be independent involves taking many factors into consideration. So, be kind to yourself, and remember that your little one may need help in some tasks but work independently in others.  

Activities That Encourage Independence In Children

Children can be self-reliant on any activity or task as long as they are age-appropriate and well-guided. Below are some suggestions for teaching your child to be independent.

Give Them Choices

Nurture your little one’s ability to choose for themselves. Offer them choices in clothing, food, or activities. For instance, when it’s storytime, show them 2 to 3 books and ask them what they want to hear. Just make sure that all of the choices are appropriate for them.

Ask For Their Help in Meal Preparation

Preschoolers often have the motor skills that enable them to mash and cut their food or pour their drinks. Ask for their help in preparing meals; simply make sure that their “tools” are safe.

Give them small, plastic pitchers and cups. You can also provide them with a plastic toy knife to cut their fruits into smaller pieces.

Allow Them To Eat Independently

Most preschoolers can already use utensils, so you may get them started on eating independently. However, please take into account that kids can be slow and a little messy when eating on their own.

Give Them Time to Dress Themselves

Many preschoolers are capable of dressing themselves. However, they may need a few tries to do it correctly, so expect them to be slow. If you’re following a schedule, allot some time for your kid to put on clothes and shoes.

Allow Them To Use The Bathroom

Most 5-year-olds can use the bathroom without help. Hence, you can set up the bathroom to be safe for them (prepare a stool, place anti-slip mats, attach a temporary railing, etc.)

However, keep in mind that they still need supervision, as bathroom floors can be slippery, and there are dangers in a tub or pail full of water.

Hold Them Accountable

Teaching your child to be independent means setting limits and giving them responsibilities.

Remember that preschoolers can:

  • Take turns. So you can apply rules like, “If you don’t share this toy, then no one can use it for the day.”
  • Talk in a couple of sentences. That’s why you can let your child carry a conversation with adults and other kids.
  • Assign them chores. Preschoolers can already follow short and simple instructions. You can assign them duties, such as putting dirty clothes in the basket, putting their toys away, sweeping the floor in one area of the house.

Create a Routine and Encourage Questions

Finally, kids do well with routines. When you do activities repeatedly, they will learn how to do them, too.

However, let them know that it’s okay to ask for your help. Say things like: “If you find it difficult, call me. I won’t be angry,” or “Whenever you’re not sure, ask me so that I can help you.”

Remind them that you welcome their questions.

Key Takeaways

Teaching your child to be independent may be challenging, but you can do it little by little. Choose age-appropriate tasks and let them achieve these tasks independently.

Learn more about Toddler and Preschool Development here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 14, 2022

advertisement iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

advertisement iconadvertisement
advertisement iconadvertisement