Encouraging Independence

I have a dream. That one day, my young daughters will grow up to become independent women.

“All the women who are independent

Throw your hands up at me”

Sorry, I just could not resist the perfect opportunity to throw in some Beyoncé lyrics.

Yes, my daughters are both under the age of four, but it is certainly not too early to start encouraging their independence. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Many times it feels easier to do things for them, but in the long run that really isn’t doing my girls any favors.

I know you understand how stressful and chaotic life is when you are working and raising children. Every second counts in the rush to get the kids ready and out the door in the morning. When my daughter Caroline insisted she start getting herself dressed I was thrilled (at first) until she decided that getting dressed in the morning should be a leisurely experience. Uhhh, no I’m not ok with you parading around in your underwear for ten minutes, wasting valuable time in my quest to get to work on time and SANE. All too often I had to battle my “It’s just easier if I dress her myself!” way of thinking.

Ok, so those socks don't exactly scream "Vogue" but, hey, you did it yourself! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)
Ok, so those socks don’t exactly scream “Vogue” but, hey, you did it yourself! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

And then there are the days when her outfit choices are downright comical. She’ll walk up to me and announce “I’m all dressed!” while wearing horizontal striped pants and a polka dot shirt and I have no choice but to squash those thoughts of “Oh wow. People are going to look at her outfit and think I do not have a single shred of fashion sense.” Instead, I put on a big smile and tell her how proud I am that she did it all by herself. As I watch her beam with pride, I’m reminded of what it’s all about.

Having to face the fact that my babies are no longer babies anymore, and have the ability to do things for themselves, can be challenging. The reality is, I can’t keep them little (although some days I really wish I could) so I might as well do my best to encourage them to perform everyday tasks independently, such as getting dressed, feeding themselves, brushing their teeth, cleaning up their messes, even when it seems easier to take over and do it for them. If they’re capable of doing something independently, it’s my job to give them the freedom to do so. And my not-so-little-anymore girls are capable of a lot!

Not exactly the cleanest way of eating, but she did it herself! Not to mention the fact that it made for some really adorable pictures! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)
Not exactly the cleanest way of eating ice cream, but she did it herself! Not to mention the fact that it made for some really adorable pictures! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

5 thoughts on “Encouraging Independence

  1. One of the benefits of having two toddlers simultaneously is that you can’t help both toddlers at the same time – so while I am brushing one kids’ teeth, the other child (usually my little lady) has already picked out his/her clothes and has started getting dressed. I do swear, however, that if it were not for daycare/preschool, I probably would not have even thought to let the kids do half of the things they are doing on their own (I was amazed the day I found out that they know how to put on and zip their jackets!!!). Goes to show that kids are capable of a lot more than we think they are!


  2. I struggle with this EVERY. DAY. It is soooo much easier for me to just do it myself, and it takes so much time for me to wait for them to do it themselves….but then i find myself saying “can you help Mommy out and do it yourself” Helloooooo Mixed Signals. I keep telling myself that i am going to start trying to cultivate their independence…no matter how nerve wrecking it is


  3. Great post. I struggle with this sometimes because having her do stuff herself takes sooooo much longer. But I’m working on it. I’ve been giving her choices for what she wants to wear in the morning and it makes her really happy.


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