Activities to encourage independence in younger children

Activities to encourage independence in younger children

Encouraging independence in children goes hand in hand with helping your child develop the essential life skills they need to be successful. This is because when kids learn to do things for themselves through a range of fun activities, they become more confident and more willing to try new and challenging things. 

10 activities to encourage and nurture independence in your kids.

  1. Give your kids choices

  2. Allow them to help with cooking

  3. Help them understand money through games

  4. Give them household chores 

  5. Allow them to solve problems on their own

  6. Give them something to look after

  7. Let them play independently

  8. Teach them how to sew/make something

  9. Play problem-solving games

  10. Encourage them to take calculated risks


Give your kids choices

A major way to encourage your child's independence is to give them choices. Involve them in deciding what to wear, what to play or what you will do on a particular day. When they have choices, kids start to feel like they have control over their lives, which can help them feel more independent and willing to try things. It also teaches them important decision-making skills that encourage them to explore their preferences and learn what they like and dislike. 


Related: Life skills acitivities


Allow them to help with cooking

Children often love to help and join in with what you are doing, so cooking is an easy skill to teach them that will help with independence as they get older. Learning to cook requires various skills, including following directions, measuring ingredients, and safely using kitchen appliances. Start on items they can easily do, washing fruit, helping with cake making, and measuring ingredients. Then show them how to do things that will ultimately help them to become more independent, such as making their breakfast, putting a packed lunch together and opting for healthy snacks over unhealthy ones. 


Help them understand money through games

Behavioural experts at Cambridge University have found that by the age of seven, most children have grasped how to recognise the value of money and to count it out. By this age, they will also understand that money can be exchanged for goods and what it means to earn money. This makes it a good time to talk about money and teach them about it through play. Board games such as Junior Monopoly, The Game of Life and PayDay all help children make choices about how and when to spend money and can help them learn skills that will aid financial independence when they are older. Back these games up with real-world experience with pocket money to help build confidence. Ask your child to budget the money for the week, spend wisely and allocate some to a savings fund.


Related: Teaching kids about money


Give them household chores 

When kids have their own household chores, they learn they are responsible for their actions and learn how to do things themselves. Not only does this help shape their adult life, but it also improves their confidence. A study from the University of Minnesota has found considerable benefits to giving your child chores. Marty Rossmann, Emeritus Associate Professor of Family Education, found that involving children in household tasks gave them a sense of responsibility, competence, and self-reliance. Life skills that stay with them throughout their lives. Start with simple everyday tasks such as tidying their room, making their bed and putting their toys away. Then incorporate tasks and chores that involve the whole family, such as clearing the table after dinner and helping with the dishwasher and laundry.


Related: Time management for kids, Age appropriate chores


Allow them to solve problems on their own

Presenting your child with tasks that are challenging (tying their shoelaces, how to play a new sport or learning an instrument) but within the realm of what they can do, helps them learn to deal with frustration and shows them how to persevere. The ability to keep trying even when things are demanding is a key ingredient for independence, as it allows people to keep going to achieve their goals.



Give them something to look after

Tasking your child to look after something else's needs is an ideal way to teach them accountability and independence. Nothing teaches responsibility faster than giving your child something/someone to look after. It can be something as simple as a plant, a pet, or a task such as watering the garden or helping a neighbour together on a regular basis. 


Let them play independently

When kids play independently, they are in control of their own play. They get to choose what they want to play with, how they want to play, and how long they want to play. This can help them feel more independent and confident. What's more, when children play independently, they often encounter problems that they need to solve. For example, they might need to figure out how to build something or how to fix a broken toy. This can help them learn how to think critically and develop solutions that help them become self-reliant.


Teach them how to sew/make something

​​Challenging new skills like learning to sew, make things, or plant flowers can help kids develop a sense of independence and self-reliance as they need to keep practising what they are doing to gain a sense of accomplishment. Offer your support and help but be careful not to take over.


Play problem-solving games

When kids encounter problems, they need to figure out how to solve them. This can help them develop problem-solving skills and learn how to think critically and independently. Problem-solving games like jigsaw puzzles, logic puzzles, Rubik's cube, Minecraft and coding games are all great for younger children.


Encourage them to take calculated risks

Another way to teach your child independence is to encourage them to take risks. This shows them they can do things independently and don't need to be afraid to try new things. For example, you could encourage them to try new food, make a new friend, and come down a giant slide. To gain confidence, kids need to try scary things and see that even if they fail, they can try again. 


How can GoHenry help

Kids learn best by doing. So show them how to manage money for themselves with a GoHenry prepaid kids debit card. Available for kids aged 6-18, GoHenry is a safe way for kids to practise their financial literacy skills. There's a companion app for parents which allows you to pay pocket money, monitor spending, top up when necessary and create saving pots. Money Missions is our in-app financial education tool, allowing your kids to explore various financial topics, from budgeting to saving and more.




Related articles:

Routines for kids

Essential soft skills for kids

Decision making skills for kids

Problem solving for kids

Goals for kids
Written by Anita Naik Published Aug 4, 2023 ● 6 min. read