Technology & Innovation

Guide to Encouraging Independence in Middle Schoolers

Middle school is bound to have its ups and downs, just as the journey to independence will, but there are ways to make the process less painful.

Middle school is one of the most significant times of change in any child’s life. It is the first real taste of independence many children face and the first time in their lives when they are expected to make their own choices.

It can be scary and exciting to become independent, and your child may not take to it in the order you expect. There is a balance to independence that every child must learn: with more freedoms come more responsibilities.

The best thing we as parents can hope for our children is that they will be self-sufficient and happy. So long as they have that, they will be capable of anything. But how do you go about encouraging independence in middle schoolers? Well, here’s a quick guide.

Introduce New Responsibilities

While your child probably won’t be happy about this one at first, it is perhaps the best way you can teach your child to be self-sufficient. By tacking on a few responsibilities here and there, children learn quickly that they have to support themselves.

Start with something like laundry. It is a vital skill to have and has to get down. By having your child do their laundry, you teach them that they are responsible for themselves and their comfort. It will become their problem if they wear the same shirt five days in a row.

This is also the time to start building healthy life-long habits, so be sure to teach them the important things like how to track and manage finances, how to cook, how to clean, and other domestic skills. Children can only learn independence if we provide the foundation. A child will never learn financial independence if they don’t know how to do taxes. We need to give them the skills so they can choose when and how to apply them.

It’s a sad truth of parenting, that no matter how much you prepare your children, what they do with that knowledge is up to them. You can’t force your child to keep a journal of weekly spending, but you can teach them how.

Encourage Interests and Hobbies

One of the all-time best ways for a child to learn independence is by exploring their hobbies and interests. Learning and the practice of self-teaching are wonderful ways to grow as a person and learn independence. The key to developing independence through hobbies is passion.

Whether your child loves video games, reading, learning new languages, music, baking, or sports, there are ways to use their passions to teach them independence. To start, if their hobby relies on scheduled meet-ups or traveling, encourage your child to keep track of these events on their own. If they go to the local park for weekly soccer games, let them walk there on their own rather than driving them so that they have to learn to plan to get there on time.

In interests like language, art, or baking, these hobbies take a lot of time and dedication. It helps your child more than you know to learn independence through acts they are excited about. Learning to dedicate themselves to self-improvement and self-regulated learning is a wonderful way for children to branch out independently.

Trust

Perhaps the most critical aspect of encouraging children’s independence is trust. As a parent, it can be hard to let go of the routines you’ve built up for years. We naturally want to help our children when we see them struggling and make life as easy for them as possible.

Unfortunately, too much coddling can prevent your child from learning independence. You have to let go and trust that your child will use the tools you gave them. You have to trust that you did a good enough job.

Remember, growing up, learning independence, and becoming self-sufficient is a very gradual process. You can’t expect your child to be independent overnight, so you can’t expect yourself to let go overnight either. Encouraging your child to be independent is just as much a process for them as it is for you.

Wrapping Up

Independence is an increase in responsibilities but also an increase in freedom. Growing up means growing out, and that can be a laborious concept to come to terms with, but it is essential for you and your child that they learn the foundations of self-sufficiency at an early age.

Middle school is bound to have its ups and downs, just as the journey to independence will, but there are ways to make the process less painful.

Previous

Age-Appropriate Chores for Pre-teens

Back to Technology & Innovation