Parenting Tips

10 Tips For Developing Independence In Your Preschooler

10 Tips For Developing Independence In Your Preschooler

The preschool age can be so fun and exciting, yet kind of confusing as the parent. What are the appropriate expectations for your child? What should they be able to do themselves? Toddlerhood does not feel that far away, where you were at their beck and call for every need, and now it’s time to start transitioning out of that. If you are a little overwhelmed on where to start, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite and most helpful tips for developing independence in your preschooler. Hopefully, this will provide the groundwork for you so you have a better idea of where to start for a seamless transition to independence. 

“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences” – Loris Malaguzzi 

10 Tips For Raising Independent Preschoolers

1. Encourage self-help skills

Teach your child basic self-help tasks like dressing themselves, putting on shoes, and using the bathroom independently. You can create a fun sticker chart to place in their room or on the fridge as a reminder tool that will allow them to see what they have already accomplished or still need to do.

It can be helpful to take a few moments before beginning the bedtime routine and pick out the next day’s outfit so that when they roll out of bed they can go ahead and get dressed by themselves. Having a hamper in their room will make it easy to place their used pj’s in their proper place and keep their room tidy. 

Throughout the day they can check their chart to see if there are any tasks that are needing accomplished that they can handle themselves without being asked. Be sure to praise these victories and take pride in their ability to grow and take on these new challenges! 

2. Foster decision-making

Offer your kiddo choices throughout the day to help them make decisions! Start with simple choices like what to wear or which toy to play with, and gradually increase the complexity. This practice builds decision-making skills and boosts confidence.

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It’s important to remember that young kids can feel overwhelmed by too many options and they thrive in a structured environment. When you begin offering them choices, keep it simple and only offer two or possibly three options at a time. 

3. Promote responsibility

Assign age-appropriate chores that your child can handle independently. This could include putting away toys, setting the table, or feeding a pet. Assigning responsibilities helps children understand the importance of contributing to the household and builds a sense of ownership! 

If you want to get really adventurous you can let them help you unload the dishwasher. Before your jaw drops, start by just letting them sort the cutlery into the appropriate slots in the drawer. Just be sure to remove all of the sharps first! After they are done with that, they can continue working on sorting skills by stacking plates, bowls and cups on the counter. This actually proves quite helpful because all you have to do is put the stacks in the cabinet afterwards.

4. Encourage problem-solving

Encourage your child to solve problems on their own before intervening. When they encounter challenges or conflicts, guide them through the process of finding solutions rather than immediately providing answers. This helps them develop critical thinking skills and build resilience.

Every child has their own source of pure frustration, and this issue can take more time and guidance than others, which is ok! It’s a great time to come up with coping skills for these problems that arise so they are prepared and have some options for how to respond. If you see them using your discussed strategies be sure to praise them for a job well done.

5. Develop organizational skills

Teach your child to organize their belongings and keep their play area tidy. Use visual cues, such as labeled bins or pictures, to help them categorize and organize their toys, books, and other items. These skills will translate into classroom organization when they start kindergarten and alleviate a lot of stress at home! 

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6. Promote self-regulation

Help your child develop self-control and emotional regulation skills. Teach them techniques to calm themselves when they are upset or frustrated, such as taking deep breaths or counting to ten. Encourage them to express their emotions in appropriate ways and provide them with language to articulate their feelings.

Providing a color for the big emotions such as blue for sadness, or red for anger will allow them to start communicating their feelings in an age appropriate way. If they come up to you with a red face and clenched fists and exclaim, “I’m red!” then you can proceed to ask them why and work through the issue. Once the situation has calmed down you can praise the communication skills they used and how proud you are of them for using their words! 

7. Encourage independent play

Allow your kiddo to engage in independent play without constant supervision or direction. Independent play encourages creativity, problem-solving, and imaginative thinking. Provide them with age-appropriate toys, art supplies, and books to explore and enjoy on their own.

It’s so important for your child to not feel the need to be constantly entertained by their adult caregiver, whether it be a parent or teacher. And they also need to gain the ability to play appropriately by themselves without getting into any trouble. Try starting this transition in 5-10 minute increments by providing your little one with a couple options to either play with or create and see how it goes! 

8. Build routines and expectations

Establish consistent daily routines and set clear expectations for your child. Routines provide structure and help children develop a sense of independence and responsibility. Make sure they understand what is expected of them and offer praise and positive reinforcement when they meet those expectations.

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It is important to remember that some tasks may just be too big for preschoolers! Asking a four year old to “clean your room” may feel overwhelming if it is not broken down into smaller chunks or met with some help and guidance. Chores such as feeding the family pet, cleaning up the stuffed toys and blocks, or helping to wipe down the light switches are great chores to start with and build upon.

9. Introduce new adventures

Encourage your kiddo to take on new challenges! Whether it’s trying a new activity or exploring a different play area, inspire them to step outside their comfort zone. Remind them that they are brave and strong and that they can do hard things. 

When they have you by their side to inspire them then they will be more apt to want to step into new situations. Learning this skill is so important and helpful for that upcoming transition from preschool to kindergarten and can help with separation anxiety. 

10. Teach self-care

You have been taking care of your child their entire life by brushing teeth, helping wash hands, and scrubbing in the bath. Well, the time has come to start letting them take more responsibility in the self-care arena. While they will definitely continue needing supervision, encourage your child to initiate teeth brushing at bedtime, or applaud them for washing their hands without reminders. These are all awesome ways to encourage important self-care habits that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. 

Building Independence

We hope these tips will help you to walk through this period of your child’s life with confidence and pride as you watch them grow from needy toddlers to self reliant preschoolers! We full heartedly believe that by taking these steps you will see growth in your kiddo that will prepare them for a great transition into school. 

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