Fostering Independence

Written by: Eva Salazar Torres, M.S.
Fostering Independence

“It’s a tough world out there, and my children need to be provided with every advantage so they can be competitive in the college or job market.”

The above is a parent trap. As parents it is normal to want the best for your children but what happens when you notice that your child is underperforming?

While responsive parenting improves a child’s self-esteem, overparenting is associated with lower perceived confidence and decreased self-efficacy, which can negatively affect a child’s academic performance.

Main difference? Are you giving your children advantages or assisting them in developing the skills that will put them at an advantage?

School-age children, roughly between age 6 and 10, are more independent, and independently social, as they take on more responsibility for their social lives, their activities, their schoolwork, and their health, diet, hygiene, and safety.

It’s a tricky line to walk and it takes intentional self-reflection as parents. Parent involvement is important for the lives of children and can boost children’s confidence and self-esteem. An over-involved parent conveys the message that the child is incapable of doing things on their own, which can lead to learned helplessness. This is when kids believe they don’t have agency over their life, and they become problem focused.

Encouraging independence at home can look different depending on the age of your child. It’s important to consider what age-appropriate tasks are and what level your child is on. Allowing kids to make choices with limits might be a good place to start. When we teach problem-solving and decision-making skills, we encourage their creative minds to work! Fostering a growth mindset.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. When a child makes a mistake, it is a perfect opportunity to teach them how they can manage a setback. Holding space for that frustration can validate the child and in turn help them through their emotions. Eventually, kids will have the confidence to deal with their problems. Parents can normalize big feelings and help their kids see that life is full of valleys and mountains, but they do not have to start the journey alone.