Children’s Independence

Growing YearsIndependence is the cornerstone of life, and the sooner we gain it, the better our lives will be. Helping a child grain independence is an important task for moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers. We love to cuddle our children, as we should, but independence and cuddling are totally compatible actions. You need not to choose between the two, as it is possible to create independence and still cuddle your child into adulthood. Cuddling, in infants and children, is the wonderful action of kissing, hugging and lounging body to body, as much as your child will tolerate. It also involves anticipating and meeting your child’s every need (later known as coddling). When your he/she reaches adolescence and adulthood, you must get by with much less of the former (hugs, kisses, lounging), but still anticipate wants and needs. Our desire is to fulfill as many of these as possible (maybe not the Porsche, but certainly the happiness). On the other hand, independent, as it is applied to early childhood teachings, is for a child to independently perform self-help tasks that are age appropriate, thus becoming independent of the need for others to do it for them.

It is human nature to not want our children to become too independent, for fear they will no longer need us. As a mother of older children (now adults), let me assure you that nothing is further from the truth. I raised my children to be independent, but to know that I am always there for them when “they” want or need me. Happily, I can report a good relationship with my children, even in the difficult teen years, and into adulthood. It is a respectful relationship on both parts. Independence garners respect for family rules, feelings and everyone’s needs. And cuddling, believe me, will not stop when personal independence is gained. Children want and need your show of affection as much as you do. Sometimes, we simply want to keep our child a “baby”, thus “coddling” them into adulthood. Believe me when I say, “adult babies are not much fun”, but, by the time you discover the truth in this statement, it will be far too late to make any changes.

There are other reasons you should want your child to become independent of others for their basic self-help needs. Your child does not think of self-help skills as something undesirable, in fact he/she constantly practices imitating both mom and dad. When able to successfully fulfill the task at hand, the shine of self-esteem, beams from their face. To accomplish the task brings joy to your child, which is exactly what you want for him/her. The knowledge that he/she can achieve the things they want in life, is empowering. You want your children to embrace life with a positive attitude, that will take them far. You want your child to be happy, and independence is the first step to happiness. Independence also plays a pivotal role in developing early childhood skills. Skills follow a sequential pattern. When we interfere with the sequence by holding the bottle too long, delaying potty training, not allowing choices or feeding, only to avoid a mess, etc., development is delayed. Independence is a must in the life of a happy child … or adult.