How to Raise Self-Reliant Children

in #parenting4 years ago

Many parents hope to raise their children to think for themselves and be independent. While it can be time-consuming and difficult at times to teach children how to be self-reliant, it's an important aspect for them to learn.

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I know that with my two boys, sometimes their stubborn dependence can be exhausting. When the 4 year old just doesn't want to put on his shoes (with velcro closures) that he has been able to put on all by himself for the last few months, it's easier to just do it for him. Or when the 7 year old doesn't want to make his own drink, it's quicker to grab the pitcher and pour it ourselves.

But, that sort of behavior is a slippery slope to always enabling them to rely on us. My examples are just small acts, but the more we continue to do for our children as they grow and develop, the more we could be hindering their ability to rely on themselves.


Teaching Self-Reliance =/= Neglect

Keep in mind that there is a difference between raising a child who is self-reliant and being a "hands-off" parent.

Being hands-off means that you are just letting your child do whatever they want without any help or guidance. Some may also call it neglect, as your children are being forced to raise themselves with no assistance from you. That is not what my husband and I do with our children, and it is definitely NOT what I am suggesting in this article.

What I am suggesting is guiding your children to become more independent while always being there for them when they really need you. If you are wanting to start helping your child learn how to become more self-reliant, here are some suggestions that may be able to help.


Tips to Raising Self-Reliant Children

Give them a bit of space.

It's important to still be there for support and to help set the framework, but when you give a task, give them the room and opportunity to complete that task. Avoid micro-managing your child or becoming upset when he doesn't get it right the first time. You must continue to nurture your child even as you teach independence.

Creating a self-reliant atmosphere means that they know what needs to be done, and you are trusting them that they will do what it takes to ensure that it does get done. It's tempting to take over and help, but let them figure things out on their own and at least attempt it before you step in.


Source: Pixabay

Real World Example

My 7 year old has been able to fix his own breakfast for over a year now. He knows to take a bowl from the cabinet, pour cereal in without spilling, add milk without spilling, and put everything away before eating. He can also put the spoon and bowl in the dishwasher once he's finished eating. I'm sure there have been minor spills or mishaps along the way, but he is happy to fix his own meal -- and it makes me proud that he can do it for himself.


Allow them to make their own decisions and choices about certain things.

Again, this doesn't mean your kids should "get the keys to the kingdom." But, if you are wanting to raise them to be self-reliant, they need the ability to give their own opinions or make their own choices on some manners. One easy way to offer this choice is by letting them choose their own school outfits at night before bed.


Source: Pixabay

Of course, you can be there to oversee the selection process, but try not to have too much input. Unless the outfit is inappropriate for school or would go against the dress code, your kids should be able to choose what they wear.


Teach them about the importance of setting goals.

Having goals is a major factor in being more self-reliant. Adults don't expect anyone else to help them reach their goals, so you want to instill this train of thought into children as well. Help your kids understand goal setting, including how to create a plan to achieve the goals. The plan will be the roadmap for the journey, and reaching the goal will give them more self-confidence to rely solely on themselves.


Source: Pixabay


Help them to understand that failure doesn't mean it's time to give up.

Let's face it...sometimes, when we try something new or set out to achieve a goal, we fail. It's not always fun, and it isn't always the way that we pictured things going...but regardless, it happens. Be open with your children about failure. Help them understand that they will make mistakes and that not everything will always go according to plan.



Let them know it's normal to fail and it's not something that should derail them on their journey or want of being independent. If they know that it's okay to try and fail, then also make certain that they understand that it's just as important to try, fail, and then continue to try. Giving up isn't an option with failure -- it just means that there are other ways out there that they can try that may work a little bit better.


As a parent, raising self-reliant children doesn't have to be overly difficult. It's a positive to teach our children how to start taking care of themselves! We want them to flourish and continue to grow in life, and being self-reliant is a huge aspect of that!


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My 7 year old daughter makes hers and her sisters cereals in the morning, when I'm being too slow, like they can't wait 5 minutes and they love the fact that I tell them to make their own drinks. I do have to get them to tell me when they go in the kitchen and get something to eat, or let me know if things are getting low as I have given them this responsibility, as mine is to make sure that they do occassionally eat a proper meal too haha.

Haha, wait...cereal isn't proper?! ;) Breakfast is served at schools here, so they usually only have cereal on the weekends. But it's great that you are teaching your girls to notice when foods are running low. Little tasks like that help build their self-reliance for sure! My 7 year old loves to help make the grocery list before we go shopping, though there are usually some of his choices on there too...Ice cream, candy, etc :)

No cereal isn't that proper :( Too much starch and sugar.

I agree, which is a shame because it's so easy to make. But, my kids only get it on occasion.

its an amazingly educative article that can help anyone. Some day when I have kids, I will sure raise them to be self reliant

Thanks for the kind words, @bomsyrado! I hope it helps more parents learn to raise their kids to be self reliant.

This is a very good article. A job well done steem mama @keciah

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I can imagine it would be difficult as a parent knowing the boundaries between neglecting and guiding them to make their own choices. Great points in helping us determine between the two!

Yeah, you don't want to neglect your children...just slowly give them more responsibilities and chances to be independent as they grow.

Well done in following through with the self reliance, and I'm sure you will reap the benefits later on when your kids are old enough to take some real chores off you hands. I'm still picking up after my teenagers :).

Well, I have to do quite a bit of cleaning for my boys, ages 7 and 4. BUT the oldest seems to be learning more and wanting to help, whereas the 4 year old would rather just make a mess! Hopefully he gets it soon too haha. :)

I dont have children of my own but I am an early childhood teacher and I can say that you are absolutely right!

The ammount of times I had kids tell me they couldnt do things.. such as tie shoes .. the best you can do is let them have a try first - they will get frustrated but thats part of the learning! I think its natural to not want children to struggle but that is them learning :)

My ideas might be different when I havhave my own children though :P

Right, I agree with you. They need to learn how to do things on their own, even if there is some frustration. My 7 year old tends to get upset easily if he can't get something right the first time. So, it can be difficult to teach independence to him, but I know it's necessary.

Yeah often tough love is the answer!

It takes lots of patience on our part to teach kids. I have to remind myself time and time again that they are bound to make mistakes and it is okay.

Exactly, @leeart. Mistakes are all part of the learning process for kids. :)

There is a lot of good advice in your post. On the occasions when they won't do something which you know they are capable of, have you tried altering the result of their refusal?

For instance, when the 4 year old refuses to put on his shoes to go somewhere, then tell him that if he doesn't put on his shoes, then he won't be able to go.

When the 7 year old refuses to pour his own drink, then tell him he'll have to go thirsty. He'll soon change his mind if he really wants the drink.

That way they are learning self-reliance as the only alternative is to go without something that they want.

Oh yes, we do that with the 4 year old. He likes to go with my husband to pick up our older son from school, and if he's refusing to put on his shoes, we usually tell him that he can just stay home. They usually has him moving. If we are already running a bit behind, however, it's sometimes easier just to slip them on for him. I know it's bad though...something we are trying to move away from more and more!

Awesome advice. I love your post and totally agree with you.

When my daughter was a couple of years old, and I was still working, I had to get her up and to the kindergarden. She was sleepy and didn't want to get dressed, so I asked her what she wanted to wear... A blanket, was her reply. But no, I didn't allow her to get back to bed.

I had a huge mental fight with my son when he was five or so. We were on a ferry sitting next to the toilet, and he wanted me to go with him out there. I refused. He ended up by going himself and was proud when he came back. Today, he's an office manager with 130 employees under him, completely self-reliant. That makes me proud.

Sorry, I had to laugh a little on the blanket comment. It sounds like something my 7 year old would have said! :) That's awesome your son turn out so self reliant. I hope we are steering our boys in the right direction to become something great one day!

I'm certain you are :) It sounds like it, judging from what you post here.

Very good tips. I am raising a son who is two years old now and this is enormously helpful to me!

Glad you found it helpful, @dxn. Thanks for stopping by. :)

I'm two days away from being able to say I've raised three self reliant adults (yes, the youngest is about to turn 18! How did that happen so fast?), much in the way you described. It really came in handy when I wrecked my knee a year or so ago - I got a couple of weeks "vacation" whilst the kids handled everything for me. 😊

Great article! I agree with you that it is not easy to develop self-reliance within a child. It takes time but it pays off. So many times I have to make a mental effort to remind myself that I need to give my child time to do things on his own despite the fact that I am pressed to go somewhere and it would be easier if I would just do it.

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