What with Velcro and all, your kid could never learn to tie their shoes and still live in sneakers. And it’s tempting to just keep cleaning their rooms and making their snacks long after they could do it themselves; after all, there’s no muss and no fuss when you just do everything yourself. But ultimately, that’s not fair to you — or them. Ironically, fostering your kid’s independence does require more short-term work on your part — but it’s worth it when they grow into responsible grownups who can take care of themselves. Here’s how to raise an independent kid of your very own.


Increase their freedoms.

Let your toddler play on their own in a child-proofed room while watching from a distance. When they get a little older, send them outside to run around in the yard solo. And older still? Let them walk to a friend’s house down the street.


Ask them to get it themselves.

Even toddlers can serve themselves at the dinner table and fetch their own toys from low shelves or a toy bin. And if your first grader wants some milk? Tell them to grab the carton out of the fridge.


Let them struggle.

Learning to share or ride a bike isn’t easy, and it’s tempting to swoop in and save your kid from their troubles. But kids’ proudest moments come from overcoming adversity. Resist the urge to do it for them; instead, just be there to support them through the inevitable frustrations that happen along the way.


Collaborate on problem solving.

When a conflict comes up, take turns coming up with a solution and checking in with each other about whether that idea works for both of you. That way, your child is involved in resolving the issue (and bonus: is more invested in a compromise) rather than just waiting for someone else to hand them the answer.


Encourage their friendships.

Friends teach kids how to manage their own conflicts and build their own connections. Set up plenty of play dates, even with the friends who aren’t your favorites–they’ll learn from those kids too–and, as much as possible, let the two of them figure out what to play together (and what to do when they disagree).


Give them free time.

Boredom is a good thing, because bored kids become resourceful kids who figure things out for themselves. Don’t overschedule your child and you’ll find they come up with their own fun.


Give them choices.

For little ones, it might be which shirt to wear today, or whether to go to the park or the library. Bigger kids can help decide what summer camp they want to go to, or what you’ll make for dinner together.


Let them lead.

Grant them some controlled ways to practice leadership, whether it’s having them make up a dance routine you follow, or asking them to help find your gate at the airport on a trip.


Love and show confidence in your kid.

When children trust their parents and feel safe and supported, they explore and try new things — and build independence in the process.


Next: Help your child develop the social and behavioral skills that lead to lifelong success — get your free trial of Q Wunder now