I want to make sure that you’ve seen this! There is new and really exciting research coming out about how much independence impacts kids.
Since I always encourage you to support your kids’ independence and ability to play alone, I wanted to share this exciting research with you.
Independence can give so much to our kids. This research helps put into perspective just how important childhood independence truly is, and how deeply it can lead to a child’s resilience.
The research shows that allowing your kid to do something on their own, without the support of an adult, can actually reduce anxiety dramatically even if what you’re asking them to do has nothing to do with what makes them anxious!!
Why is this the case? We all know that when we’ve been able to do something independently we feel a new sense of confidence that we didn’t have when we needed someone to help us with it. We also feel a new sense of responsibility, and confidence plus responsibility is what breeds resilience.
In this paper (that I hope you’ll read) researchers guided kids with anxiety to do something totally on their own, without the support of an adult.
When kids did something that they wanted to do on their own, for example rode their bike to pick up a loaf of bread or went to school by themselves or bought something in a store, things that are out in the world that they did by themselves, that their confidence increased, their anxiety decreased and their presenting anxiety about specific issues/situations also decreased, even when the independent action had nothing to do with that anxiety.
This is really, really, important, because for those of us who have kids who get anxious about specific things our instinct is often one of two things:
- We either encourage them to do that thing more, because we think that exposure will help them.
- Or, we take away all exposure to the thing that makes them anxious, because we dread the meltdowns and big anxiety that can come.
This study shows that independence in other areas leads to confidence in the area that they’re nervous about!
So, here’s a prompt for you: Ask your child what they’ve been wanting to do independently, something you may not have allowed before, and start discussing how they can make it happen.
I’m curious to hear your experiences with this!