Children crave increased independence with each new developmental stage. The child who once clung to Mom or Dad for security now believes their parents are old or uncool. Part of the parental job description includes fostering growth and independence while maintaining safe conditions for the children.


Finding the balance between the parental need to maintain control and the child’s need for independence can seem like an impossible task. The struggle between the two may lead to arguments and emotional outbursts, so it is imperative to create a conducive environment for growth.


Fostering independence in children is not a sudden venture. They will not be independent, productive people overnight. Parents and children both need to work to create a realistic vision of independence.


Even the most mature child needs clear guidance on their journey to self-reliance. Setting boundaries for them gives them increased confidence as they begin to make their own decisions. It is best to make their guidelines clear with clear consequences for exceeding the boundaries.


Effective decision making is not a natural process. Parents must teach their children through practice how to make appropriate decisions. Allowing children to make small decisions is an integral step in effective decision-making practices. Perhaps they could choose their clothing, for example.


As children exhibit the ability to make appropriate decisions, parents can confidently begin to add more responsibility. Incrementally increasing boundaries allows parents to maintain control while allowing children to feel freer.


Communication is key to the process of granting greater freedom. Parents need to be clear about their expectations. Children need to feel heard. Parents should facilitate an environment conducive to open, non-emotional, non-threatening communication.


Children are naturally growing and changing. They are not attempting to elicit anger or frustration from their parents. Parents should remember that they once experienced the same growing pains. Remaining calm and patient will help make the process less painful for everyone.


New challenges come with each new stage of parenthood. As children long for more independence, parents should embrace the change. Parents hold the key to making these adjustments as painless as possible. While the children let go, the parent sometimes longs to hold on tighter. However, with good communication, clear guidance, and patience, parents can confidently facilitate independence.