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Ten ways to encourage your child's independence

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Independant child toddler putting on shoes
It's a fine line between wanting your child to head off into the big wide world before they're ready and molly-coddling them. Here are 10 small things you can do to allow them to grow.

1. Help your child make decisions by offering a small choice of which story to read or what T-shirt to wear.

2. Give her little responsibilities, such as putting away toys or helping you to get the lunch ready.

3. Get her involved in the weekly shop by following simple instructions, such as 'we need three red apples', or 'get the bread on the bottom shelf'.

4. Show enthusiasm when your child tries to help, even if it'll take longer. Recognise any tasks she accomplishes.

5. Praise her ability. This is necessary for a child to believe she's capable of doing things, and that it was her own skill that led to success, rather than luck. For instance, tell her how 'clever' she is for throwing the ball into the hoop, rather than 'that was lucky'.

6. Tempting as it is to say, 'I'll do it,' say 'let me show you how' instead. That way, your child's learning new skills and not just relying on you to do everything for her.

7. Encourage her to self-feed. Yes, it's messy, but it's also an achievement that will encourage independence.

8. Point out why things are dangerous or unacceptable without belittling the motivation to do things on her own. For example, using a sharp knife to help with dinner may seem like a good idea when your child has seen you do the same, but a butter knife is more appropriate.

9. Avoid using the word 'no' unless something is dangerous or clearly wrong.

10. Respect a child's feelings and fears. Even if it seems silly to you, ask her why she's afraid and then take time to talk about it.

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