One of the most important roles of a parent or nanny is that of teacher. In this blog, we’ll outline 5 ways to encourage independence in children, sure to root them in self confidence! These simple techniques can easily be incorporated into the daily routines of nannies and families of the East Bay and beyond.

1. Provide Children With Easy-Access Activities!

Great kids’ activities are characterized by accessibility, age appropriateness, and ease for a child to assemble. When little ones are presented with thoughtfully curated materials, they’re naturally drawn to playing independently.

A Montessori approach to organizing activities has proven to be very effective! When setting up an activity, consider these questions:

  1. Can a child set this activity up, and clean it up independently?
  2. Are the materials for this activity stored in a place that is easy for a child to reach by themselves?
  3. Do your activities help them to develop their left brain and right brain?
  4. Does this encourage physical, sensory, social, and emotional development? 

If you’re seeking resources on activity ideas, look no further than The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies. This stunning book has wonderful developmentally appropriate activity ideas! 

2. Follow Your Child’s Lead

Encourage kids to show you what they’re interested in. By letting your child occasionally take the lead, they know that you value what lights them up!

An age-appropriate environment sets your child up for success when using this approach! They’ll feel more comfortable leading play, and have the ability to focus more in, say, a safe sand box at your favorite park, or when you’re engaging in imaginative play at home. 

Children can learn about color, texture, language, friendships, gravity, and movement at their own pace. It’s OK not to step in if they are struggling a bit! You’ll know when to intervene because your child will give you queues that they need help.

3. Be Consistent! 

Maintaining a routine allows children to feel in control of their situation. They’ll be less likely to feel overstimulated, mentally check out, or become anxious when they are able to predict what should come next. Consistency helps babies up through teens understand boundaries and expectations. 

Once a child has a routine down, they will feel confident about doing things themselves!

Some areas to emphasize consistency include:

  • Saying “please” and “thank you”
  • Washing hands at appropriate times
  • Setting up the table before a meal
  • Cleaning up toys at the end of playtime
  • Saying “excuse me” to get someone’s attention
  • Establishing a bedtime routine
  • Having a goodbye routine when parents head off to work and the nanny takes over

4. Model, Demonstrate, then Wait

Test the waters…. Show your kiddos how to do something instead of simply doing it for them. You may be surprised by your child’s capability to problem solve and do things on their own!

Little ones want to be just like you! They are always watching and absorbing your behavior. Read up on the Bobo doll experiment, and you’ll understand how true this is – for better or worse.

If you model the behavior you expect from a child, before you know it, that’s how they’ll be doing things, too! It may take time for them to master a task, as children are generally visual and kinesthetic learners (they learn by seeing, then doing).

The “Model, Demonstrate, then Wait” trick doesn’t have to be only about real tasks at home. You can instill a lesson by incorporating the modeling into imaginative play. For instance, if a dolly is saying “excuse me” and helping her mommy set a table before dinner, it’s suddenly so silly and fun! Every moment is a learning opportunity. 

5. Look at the Big Picture

Sometimes, we just have to slow down for “kid time.” We all know that kids do things at a snail’s pace! Instead of getting frustrated with your child for taking too long to put on their own shoes, incorporate time for these tasks into your daily schedule. 

When you give a child time to brainstorm ideas before you intervene, you will watch them blossom, grow, and build self esteem. Practice makes perfect (and for expediency)!