• Trust is the key.

Autonomy means a lot more than simply growing up. It’s also having the self-confidence to do, and to try, certain things, which fosters & develops your child’s independence, and it also means developing the ability to think and act for themselves. By becoming autonomous, and therefore becoming more detached from you as parents, your child develops their self-esteem and self-confidence.

By helping your little one develop their autonomy, you are showing them that you trust them, and that you are proud of their accomplishments. It also means letting them exercise their freedom while protecting – but not overprotecting – them. Parents often tend to do things for their children in order to help them, to hurry things up, or because they are under the misconception that their child will not be able to accomplish the activity by themselves. How many times have you tied your child’s shoelaces or hung up their coat in the cupboard, put on their wellies without asking your child to do it? The most common reason given by parents is that it makes life quicker and easier! It certainly does, but by doing everything yourself for them, you are not encouraging your child to take the initiative, to help empower them, or allowing them to show their independence. And most of all, you are discouraging them from trying little challenges that they could most likely handle.

  • You can do this by yourself!”

Try using this little phrase instead of doing everything for your child.

This key phrase can be very useful for moments such as: “Mummy, can you draw me a monster? “Daddy, can you open this for me please?” The idea is not to abandon your child to their activity but to show them that they are capable of doing certain things without your help while still knowing you are close and nearby if they get stuck. It’s about empowering your child, not rescuing them.

  • Relax!

S-L-O-W down! Don’t worry about spills and mess. Learn to stay calm and allow your child to make their own mistakes – it adds to their autonomy experiences.

  • Love a challenge!

Every day, try to give your child a small challenge in order to stimulate their desire to try something new and to come gently out of their comfort zone. ‘Talk & Teach’ your child to enjoy challenging themselves a little every day.

  • Encourage their ideas

Try not to interrupt your child’s creative drive or to systematically put down their ideas – that makes them reluctant to take the initiative. Encourage your child to take small risks, to try new things or to change strategies. You are their guide to their attitude and their success. Remember mistakes should also be perceived as life lessons or as new challenges to overcome, not long term failures.

  • Teach your child to take responsibility!

Start young! Even though your child is small, it doesn’t mean that that they can’t take responsibility for specific little activities such as: feeding your dog, picking up the letters that drop onto the mat, or laying the table. You may consider these actions as chores, but your child will see them as a privilege and a sign of trust and confidence in them.

  • Things to Avoid.

Certain attitudes can be detrimental to your child’s sense of autonomy:

  • Overprotecting your child.
  • Constantly repeating instructions.
  • Constantly supervising your child’s activities.
  • Having difficulty letting your child work in their own way.
  • Solving problems between your children constantly.
  • Worrying when your child is away from you.