In light of the recent “free-range parenting” bill passed in Utah, signed on March 15, 2017 to take effect in May, it got me thinking about children and how we can help develop their independence.
Looking for ways to build your child’s independence? Here are 3 things you can do, while also exercising their leadership skills, as you get them outside for some Vitamin N.
Prioritize Unstructured Time Outside
Kids need nature. These days, in our over-scheduled world, our kids also need to learn how to self-propel. If you can, go outside with your kids to explore in an unstructured way, at least once a week, to get fresh air, decompress, and de-stress. Walks in nature, hanging out in the backyard, heading to the park for some downtime all help to strengthen your bonds, and get some therapeutic time in nature.
If they are given the chance to explore on their own, they are strengthening their independence as well.
Let Them Pack Their Backpacks
Before you head out for a hike, talk with your kids about what you pack in your backpack, and why. Then, as you get closer to your day trip, let them do the packing themselves. Remember, you can always pack the necessary stuff for everyone.
The sooner your kids get in the habit of packing their own things, the more independent they become.
Let Them Lead
We are so used to telling our kids where to go and what to do and when. Next time, when you take your kids outdoors for some time in nature, let them lead.
When my son was younger, we would practice our map-reading skills and before long, he could lead us into and out of the park, by way of the different trails.
Letting your kids lead not only helps them build self-confidence, but it hones their leadership skills.
It can also be a lot of fun for your kids to sit in the driver’s seat for a while, and if you have more than one child, giving each one their turn in leading can be a lot of fun both for the pack leader and the followers.
Remember, it’s important for your kids’ health and development to spend time outside. Make it a priority, and they will grow up valuing time spent in nature too.
Need 5 more reasons?
Here’s a helpful visual put together by Kenny Ballentine of Nature Kids Institute: