What does it mean to develop independence in your child? Veteran educator Patricia Koh, who founded Pat’s Schoolhouse and now heads Maple Bear Singapore, says: “Developing independence should be taken to mean helping a child cope with simple tasks without having to rely on an adult all the time, rather than allowing a child to be free to do things his way.”
Here, she shares 5 ways to help your child cope with simple tasks:
1. STATE the exact action needed. Your child needs to understand what is required of him. Be specific and say: “Please put all your toys into the blue box when you have finished playing with them.”
2. SHOW how it is done. Your child needs to observe, learn and imitate the correct actions. It is thus important that you speak to him as well as demonstrate what is expected of him. For example, you could wash your hands as you show him how to do so, or return a book to the shelf as you tell him what to do.
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3. SET an example. Remember to always do the exact things you expect of your child. For example, if you expect him to put away his plates or cups into the sink after a meal, the rest of the family members should do the same.
4. SEND positive messages of encouragement. It is important to encourage continued positive behaviour through praise and by stating what he has done right. You can reward your child with small rewards, such as little treats which you do not normally give out, or time-off to engage in activities he enjoys.
5. SIMPLIFY the action if it is too difficult for your child. Sometimes a child is not ready to be independent. You will then need to simplify the steps.
To help your child get used to his bedtime routine for example, such as putting away his toys, showering, putting on pjyamas, getting tucked into bed and having a bedtime story read to him, you can simplify the process and start by asking him to first put away his toys.
Thereafter, you may encourage him to practise the routine while you help him recall what needs to be done. Make it a game, so he does not feel pressured when he gets it wrong.
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