As the parent of a preschooler, you may be wondering how to find the right balance between helping your preschooler and allowing them to learn how to be independent. As daycare providers in Long Island, we’re on your side. In this post, we’ll highlight ways to encourage independence in preschoolers. Help them learn that they are capable of completing tasks on their own, creating ease in their daily routine, and contributing as part of your family “team!”
This might be a process of trial and error, but try playing around with different tasks that you’re not sure if they can do. Start small! For example, find a simple task they can do to help with meal preparation. This can be throwing trash away for you, putting plates in the sink, or putting napkins on the table. Try to find the “sweet spot” when it comes to tasks that can challenge them but that are also doable.
If your preschooler says they want a snack, this might be something they can tackle. However, it’s important that you set them up for success in this new independence. Maybe this looks like putting a bin in your pantry or fridge that they can reach with snacks they can open – such as baggies of sliced fruit or an easy-to-open granola bar. Teaching your preschooler how to open these common snack items can help them be more successful when given the opportunity to do so.
Trust that your preschooler can be independent! It can be easy to write-off certain tasks that we’re not sure they can take on, but giving them the trust and encouragement that you believe they can will help them want to be independent. After all, preschoolers love praise and attention for their actions when they do something that impresses and helps you.
Setting up a routine for mornings, afternoons, and nights can help your preschooler learn what tasks are expected of them. This could mean getting out of bed and using the potty by themselves before they come down for breakfast. In the afternoon, it could mean getting their own snack after school and settling down for some quiet time. At night, their task could include putting all of their toys into a basket or brushing their teeth. With structure and routine, your child will create helpful habits that will encourage independence and make them feel proud as they contribute alongside the rest of the family.
Preschoolers, as you are familiar with, love to have fun. Encouraging independence should be done by making it enjoyable! Try making games out of tasks, offering rewards when tasks are complete, and making it fun through adding movement, music, and other forms of joy. Participate with them as a team at first and then allow them to take over once they know they are capable of it AND that they can have fun during it.
How do you encourage your preschooler’s independence? We’d love to hear the ways that have worked for you and what tasks they are able to complete on their own.