Encouraging autonomy is an important part of children growing up to be self-confident and self-sufficient adults who have a true sense of self worth. However, autonomy has a closer pay off ...middle school. Autonomy is very important when children get to middle school and start facing peer pressures. We want children to be thinkers, problem solvers and most of all comfortable in their own skin so that when they are faced with make making choices they can be confident choosing the healthy, but possibly unpopular decision, to stay safe and have meaningful friendships.
“Habitually doing things for your child that she’s capable of doing herself sends an inadvertent message that you don’t have confidence in her abilities,” which leads to learned helplessness (2017, Guillard).
What builds autonomy in children? Letting children do what they can do is a great step. Obviously, the older the child gets the more they can do, but watching carefully can give clues as to when the child is ready to advance. For example, elementary students can:
When you notice your child doing any of the above activities, then it is a sign they are ready to practice doing it all the time. It takes time and can sometimes be messier than if the adult did it. However, the payoff is worth it! Children between 6-12 years old are developing “real-world skills and a sense of competence” (2017, Burke). Showing children they are strong, capable and worthy are important messages we can send them through our actions.
Burke’s article addresses the various stages of child development with the goal of helping to “identify when to provide your kids with the support to reach new, cognitive heights” (2017). I highly suggest reading Burke’s article linked below for more insight into brain-based research on child development. The article is written for parents and educators to understand and based on solid brain research.
Burke, G. A brief overview of the developing brain: How you can help your kids thrive as they
grow. Feb 13, 2017. Retrieved from:
Gillard, J. Help yourself! 8 tips for teaching kids to be more independent. Sept 29, 2017
Today’s Parent. Retrieved from: