Expert Parent Advice

Top 3 Ways to Foster Independence and Capability at Home

Parents often marvel at how independent and self-sufficient their children are at school when they seem to act so helpless at home.  Why is that?  In part, it’s because we allow them to act helpless!


I’m Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series.

Today, we’re talking about the top three ways parents can foster capability and independence at home.  
1. Stop doing for kids what they can do for themselves.

Starting today, ask yourself the question. “What am I currently doing for my kids that they could do for themselves with a little training?”  This is a critically important question because when we do things for our kids that they really are capable of doing for themselves, it robs them of the opportunity to be capable and independent.

It might be making their beds, pouring their cereal, zipping their coats, or packing their lunches.  If they are CAPABLE but you still do it for them, you are doing your kids a disservice.

Now, I’m not saying that we’ll never help our kids when they need it, but do them and yourself a favor by fostering their independence.  They are hard-wired to be capable and independent, and they want to do things for themselves.  That’s why our kids thrive in the preschool environment because your child’s teacher recognizes how capable he really is!  

Starting today, make a list of the tasks that you can turn over to your kids, and then move on to Step #2.

2. Take time for training!

Once you identify the tasks that you want to turn over to your kids, take time for training! TEACH them how to make the bed, pour the cereal, zip the coat, or pack the lunch.  After you do the training, let them practice without a lot of criticism or “correction” from you.  Even if they don’t do the task perfectly or to your specifications, that’s okay!  It’s more important that they feel proud of their growing independence!

For helpful tips on how to train your kids to be more independent and self-sufficient, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

3. Prepare the physical environment for your child’s independence.  

Take a few clues from your child’s school environment for ways that you can tweak your home environment to allow your child to be capable and independent.  Make sure that serving dishes are at a kid-friendly height.  Allow your child to serve herself parent-approved snacks.  Provide low shelving and hooks so your child can clean up after herself. Purchase kid-friendly serving pieces that foster independence.  Check out the interactive that goes along with this video for a fantastic resource for kid-friendly kitchen implements.


Your new mantra can be the words of Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, author of the child-rearing classic, Children: The Challenge... “Never do for a child what she can do for herself.”

It works like a dream in the classroom, and it can work wonders at home.  When you train your child to be self-sufficient, you do your child and yourself a favor.  Kids who are capable and empowered are less likely to act out in negative ways.  It’s a win for everyone.

And, of course, don’t forget about the interactive that goes along with this video.

For ongoing strategies for your parenting challenges, visit us often at Kids ‘R’ Kids for Expert Parenting Advice.

I’m Amy McCready for Kids ‘R’ Kids, and I’ll see you next time.