There are basically two stages in your child’s life when they start to assert their independence, when they are toddlers, and tweens. The following is a look at how you can help your tween be more independent, and in a positive way:
1. Choosing own class schedule. When tweens get into middle school or junior high they get the option to choose some of their own classes. Granted there are required classes that they have to take, but there are also elective classes, where they elect which classes interest them. Give them independence by allowing them to choose their own classes and then hold them responsible for that choice. If they choose biology, and hate it, don’t let them drop out, that does not teach them anything. Even if you want them to take harder, or more challenging classes, do not push the issue, instead allow them to choose.
2. Don’t worry as much about appearance. One of the best ways to give kids independence in a way that won’t hurt them is through their appearance. If they want to cut or dye their hair, wear certain styles, colors, etc. let them. It lets them develop who they are, and as long as they still meet the rules or standards of modesty in your home, what can it hurt? The fact is that not worrying about how they look, and letting them make those decisions for themselves is a great way to let them be independent.
3. Let them drive your car, you have insurance! One way to show your child that you are going to allow them independence, and to encourage it is by letting them drive your car after they have a license. Don’t always insist on driving with them, or driving them. As hard as it is, let them take your car on occasion and show you that they can handle it. You have insurance, if something happens your car is covered, and hopefully nothing will happen. Your child will have to learn it eventually.
4. Supporting their interests. A great way to give your child independence is to let them decide what they are interested in, and then support them in it. If they want to do dance, let them, but as a part of it, make them stick with it for at least a six month period. Part of being independent is not just choosing your own path, but being responsible enough to stick with it.
5. Phones, computers, etc. Independence is easier to receive if you give them to the tools to do so. One way to give your kids independence is to allow them to have Facebook, MySpace, etc. accounts, but with that, be sure you have their passwords, and access to those accounts so that you can monitor their use, and ensure that it is appropriate. Also, consider getting them a cell phone, but set rules with it such as no sexting, and no gossip. Then, once again, be sure to monitor their use. Read through some of the texts to ensure they are appropriate.