Toolkit: Tips to Encourage Independence

  • When your child encounters a “problem,” such as a toy breaking, or difficulty turning on a toy, give him time to work out the problem independently. Children are motivated by a little frustration to use their problem-solving skills.
  • Try to catch your child before he becomes too frustrated and gives up on solving the problem. Read your child’s cues. When you see his frustration increase, provide the least amount of support you can that still allows your child to achieve his goal. For example: Rather than pushing the button for him, turn the toy to a position that will allow him to push a button himself. Or, rather than handing the toy to him, move it a little closer to the end of the couch so that he can reach it himself. This is how to build your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Remember that encouraging self-reliance and independence is especially important for children with special needs. We never want to do for children what they can learn to do for themselves.
  • If your child has delays in his communication,encourage him or her to use gestures to indicate what he wants, and to participate in achieving his goal.