Being independent by definition means to “be free from outside control” and “not influenced by the thought or action of others”.  If your goal includes raising a child who has high self-worth and confidence, a child who derives their happiness and motivation from within, then what you are aiming for is to raise an independent person. Children are born intrinsically motivated to learn and explore the world around them, yet they do not simply become independent just with time. Children become independent, confident, and competent through having a consistent, respectful, and trusting relationship with their parents. Parents can either help independence flourish, or squander it through well-intended, but misguided, actions.  

Independence is squandered when parents:

  • make decisions for the child without involving them
  • believe solely that they know best
  • use rewards or punishment on the child to gain a desired outcome
  • remove obstacles and challenges to safe-guard children from all negative outcome
  • insist on helping the child on performing daily tasks

Independence flourishes when parents:

  • Trust the child with appropriate responsibilities
  • show confidence in the child’s capabilities
  • give opportunities and guidance for the child to make their own choices
  • trust the child to work through natural and/or logical consequences
  • give love and respect freely, no matter if the child succeeds or falters

Parents also benefit from fostering independence in children. As children become more independent, parents feel moments of relief from the unrelenting and anxiety inducing responsibility of caring for their child 24/7. At the very beginning of a child’s life, they are naturally highly dependent on the parent. This is necessary yet not sustainable for a long period of time. Parents as individuals have needs and wants too, and if unchecked and unmet, parents can quickly become resentful and bitter about their parenting role. A child’s growing independence help parents tip the scale back so they can devote more time for themselves, which in turn models for the child an important lesson of self-respect and self-care. 


Check out this post offering steps to raising independent infants and toddlers!