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3 Skills to Teach Your Child to Become Self-Reliant

Raising your child to become independent is among your most important parenting tasks. After all, one of your key goals is to help your son or daughter survive, as well as thrive, without your guidance. That means you must prepare your child to handle life so he or she can deal with anything that comes along. But what are the essential skills that will boost your kid’s independence? That’s where I can help.

As an educational psychologist for more than 30 years, mom of three, and author of several parenting books, including “Don’t Give Me That Attitude!,” I’ve seen what really does work when it comes to raising self-starters. (You know, those kids who don’t need us to solve their problems, rescue them from setbacks, and make excuses for them).

Below are three essential skills that your child needs to succeed on his own and how to teach them so he will.

Skill #1. Teach brainstorming to solve problems

Your 5-year-old remembers minutes before the bus arrives that it’s “red sharing day.” He panics, but you see endless red things in the room that would solve his problem, pronto.

Now stop right there. Jumping in to fix your kid’s problems isn’t going to build his independence muscle; he’ll just learn to expect you to always pick up the pieces for him. It’s time to use a different approach: Teach your child how to brainstorm so he can solve his own problems. The best news is we can teach the skill when our kids are just toddlers!

So the next time your child has a problem, don’t be so quick to offer a solution. Instead, use this approach.

First, say to your child: “Tell me what’s bothering you.”  (You might need to help him find the words: “I can’t think of anything red to bring for sharing.”) Express your faith that he can work things out: “I know you’ll come up with a solution for your sharing.” Then encourage him to brainstorm ideas. “Don’t worry how silly your idea sounds. Just say it, because it may help you think of more red things to share.” “Your red hat: that’s one idea! Keep going, I know you can name lots red things…”

Read More: Michele Borba,

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