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  • Writer's pictureCarol L Hornbeck, LMFT

Nurturing Independence in Times of Stress

How Can I Nurture My Child’s Independence During a Time of Stress?




One of the hardest parts of parenting is finding the balance between doing things for your child and helping them build self-reliance. Parents want to protect their child from disappointment and frustration, yet it is only through struggling with these emotions that we grow and become competent. No matter how your child might be struggling right now, there are ways to support their growth and help them develop competence.

To improve parenting skills, it is always a good idea to start by reflecting on your own childhood experience. How did your parents help you become independent? Did you feel frustrated when you weren’t allowed to try new things? Or can you recall struggling to get your parent’s attention? Awareness of the emotions you bring from your own childhood will help you be more present to your child and more able to discern what your child might need from you.

If your preschooler is struggling to put pieces of a toy together or master a new skill, it can be tempting to rescue them by doing it for them. Instead try taking a deep breath and noticing what is going on. “Wow, you are trying really hard to get those pieces together….it can be frustrating when you’re learning something new.” When we give words to what a child might be feeling, we support their emotional competence.

Try moving into a coaching role. Instead of doing it for them, ask, “what would happen if you turned that piece the other way?” Our children learn most from us when we model traits like patience, perseverance, and determination.


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