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Building Independence in Children: 5 Tips From Santa Fe Caregivers

Child Care Director Resources

22nd January 2022

Many parents and caregivers do not consider the importance of building independence in their children. The traditional dynamic of parent to child implies a dependence on the former. However, it is important that parents and guardians develop independence in their children in order to build a crucial adulthood skill. Their independence will also begin to ease your responsibilities as a parent.

Some of the choices and tasks can be completed by them! But when they are young, it can be hard to envision what building this skill looks like in a child. There are a few tips you can follow to help your child build independence.

Use Routines

Routines, either big or small, can help a child be more prepared for their day. They will also be ready to take on some responsibilities associated with their daily tasks. For example, you may always wake your child up, have them get dressed, and brush their teeth. With routine, they learn what is coming next and can help themselves get through. If they are not ready to take on the entire morning routine, have them do one part. For example, you can help them get dressed, then ask them to brush their own teeth.

Slowly Introduce Responsibilities

Children can only keep track of so many tasks. When teaching independence, don’t expect them to remember all parts of multiple tasks. Introduce tasks slowly over a longer period of time. If they are learning to set the table, they may start with putting out plates but forget to put out napkins or cups. Slowly teach the other responsibilities associated with setting a table until they learn to complete the task without your guidance.

Allow Your Child to Choose

Making decisions is a key part of learning independence. Give your child some opportunities to choose. You can make it simpler for them by giving them something with limited choices. For example, you can provide them with three different types of fruit and ask them to choose which one they want. They will learn to critically think about what they want and understand the impacts of their decisions.

Avoid always taking the lead, even if it takes a little longer for your child to decide. Deciding is connected to their ability to self-regulate. Additionally, allowing your child to choose will show them that you trust their decision-making skills and respect their choices as unique people.

Practice Positive Parenting

No one likes to be criticized while learning a new skill. Children especially thrive when instruction is led by calm, nurturing, and positive adult voices. This is particularly true with children in the parent-child dynamic. As a caregiver, try not to criticize your child while they are learning to complete a task independently.

It will decrease the likelihood that they will try the task again. If they know they will not receive criticism if you complete the task instead of them, they will ask you to do it each time. They will not learn independence. Use positive encouragement, even if they make a mistake. Let them know that everyone makes mistakes and that you believe in their ability to learn the new skill.

Consider Your Child’s Mood

If your child is sick, grumpy, or tired, it may not be the best time to try to teach them independence. Don’t ask them to complete tasks or make decisions when they are not feeling well. This could overwhelm them and make them feel worse. If they are down, you should take over. Make the necessary decisions until they are in a better state of mind.

Santa Fe Child Care

“Where is quality child care near me?” you may be wondering. At Wonderschool, our mission is to provide quality child care to every child. We work to provide children with skills and tools to grow and develop. In Santa Fe, we offer in-home child care and other preschool and daycare services to meet each child’s unique needs. Visit our website at to learn more about child care near you.



Wonderschool is a network of quality in-home early childhood programs. Our mission is to ensure that every child has access to a home away from home that helps them realize their full potential. We work with experienced educators and child care providers to help them start their own child care or preschool out of their homes, whether they live in apartments, condos, or homes that they rent or own.