4 Steps to Increased Independent Behavior


Independence is something we all want our kids to have, but for some even the smallest things become a drama filled battle of wills. Does this scenario sound familiar.... Parent: "Can you please go clean your room?" Child: (using a whining or pouting voice)

kids washing dishes

"I just can't do it by myself, can you help me?" If you've had this happen with your kids, then you're in the right place! I'm so excited to share these 4 steps to help you change this dynamic while encouraging positive behavior and building your child's confidence.

1. The Request

Yes, I know, "Clean your room" seems like a pretty clear request but from a child's perspective it may be open to interpretation! Ask yourself...

  • Is the size of the job overwhelming? For young children, being told to clean a room may seem daunting and they may not even know where to start.

  • Is this a skill that my child has or a job he has done before? If so, then have him go at it. If your child has not yet mastered a particular chore, then he may need some guidance on how to accomplish the task at hand. At this point, you could consider this a training session and do the chore with him, talking him through the steps as he learns how to do the job.

2. The Expectation

Being very clear and specific in your request will set your child up for success. Instead of a broad statement ("Clean your room") you could narrow it down to specific tasks. Request your child to neatly stack his books on the bookshelf and put his socks in the sock drawer. This allows him to know exactly what you mean and be successful in his attempts.

3. The Exit

This is a critical step for instilling independence in your child! Let's say you make a request and your child goes into what I used to call spaghetti legs mode. You've seen it, they melt on the floor and suddenly life is a Greek tragedy! My advice to you is two parts, both are easy and both are important:

  • Clearly state your confidence in his ability to do this. "We have practiced this together and you did a great job last time. I KNOW you'll be able to get this done on your own."

  • Walk away! DO NOT ENGAGE in conversation past this point or you're telling him you're willing to continue this negotiation (so he's now thinking he can wear you down and get you to help).