3 top tips to help kids do things for themselves

Psychologist, Judy McKay

How do children learn to become independent and contribute to the household? The key is to start early, by building independence while they are young and harnessing that enthusiasm that young children have to “help” or “do it myself!” If you’re having trouble letting them step up, or unsure of how to go about it, here are three top tips to get you started!

  1. Give them choice – Kids love feeling in control of their decisions. Providing them with 2 options instead of telling them what they need to do can be a simple and effective strategy to build autonomy. It can also be useful when encouraging your child to do something they don’t want to do (e.g., You need to have a bath and eat your dinner so which would you prefer to do first?). 
  1. Develop their sense of responsibility –  Allocate them a special job or role within the family system (e.g., Feeding the dog, unpacking the dishwasher or watering the pot plants). Encourage them by praising their efforts. You could also track their success with a star chart with a reward they are working towards.
3.  Encourage Exploration - Once you feel that your child has developed a sense of safety and security (i.e., they have a safe and protected place to return to if they venture too far),  it’s time to let them explore their surroundings and to test their limits outside the safety net you can provide. Show confidence in your child’s abilities and let them know you think they can do it! 

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

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