Raising an autonomous child can be a challenge, but it's also a goal worth pursuing. Autonomy is a crucial component of healthy development, and children who can make their own decisions are more likely to develop into independent adults. It can help to think of raising an autonomous child as an active process. You want to encourage your children as they experiment with what they can do on their own and learn from their mistakes.

You also want to make sure they take advantage of the available resources in your home or community so they don't get into trouble when they're away from you or don't know how to handle a difficult situation. You can use the Kairos app to give your kids an additional resource to develop life skills and critical thinking skills, ensuring that your kids will be able to build their self-awareness and take action in their own best interests. 

At what age does a child start to develop autonomy?

By autonomy, we refer to the ability and freedom to have control over one’s actions. Toddlers start developing autonomy around 18 months old and it should be fully developed by the age of 4.

There’s a stage of development when kids can be considered autonomous individuals as they learn how to make their own decisions. This process occurs gradually over time. When a child becomes autonomous depends on their personality and level of maturity, and ability to think for themselves.

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What are the three types of autonomy?

Autonomy is the ability to make your own decisions. Experts categorize this capacity into 3 different classes:

  1. Cognitive autonomy
  2. Emotional autonomy
  3. Behavioral autonomy

1. Cognitive Autonomy

The first type of autonomy is cognitive autonomy. Cognitive independence is when a person can think for themselves and make decisions. Cognitive autonomy is essential because it helps people make decisions that affect their lives. Furthermore, cognitive autonomy helps people think critically about themselves and others around them.

2. Emotional Autonomy

Emotional autonomy is about being able to understand and control one's emotions. It's about being able to make decisions based on what you want, not what others want or what society says is right or wrong. Emotional autonomy requires a certain amount of self-awareness. It means knowing what makes you happy, sad, angry, frustrated, etc. It means understanding how your feelings influence your behavior and learning how to manage them effectively (and appropriately).

3. Behavioral Autonomy

Behavioral autonomy is the ability to make decisions regarding one's behavior. This type of autonomy is usually only achievable by adults. The most obvious form of this is the ability to choose one's career path, but it also includes determining one's leisure activities or what to eat for dinner. Exercising this kind of autonomy requires having enough information about different options and weighing those choices to make a decision based on what you think will be best for you.

Free printable emotion wheel

7 tips for raising independent children

Raising an independent child can be a challenge, but it's also one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do as a parent. Children who are taught to be independent are more likely to succeed in school and at work, and they're less likely to become dependent on others.

1. Give them power at a young age

As parents, we often want to protect our children from the world. We do this by limiting their choices, which can stunt their growth as independent thinkers. We also want them to be happy, so we often let them have their way with things. However, these actions can cause resentment and make them feel like they're not empowered to make decisions.

By giving your child more freedom, you'll help them become more self-reliant and confident in their choices. Because they're making decisions on their own, they'll feel more proud of what they've accomplished.

2. Let them make choices to solve problems

Giving kids the freedom to make their own decisions is a great way to help them feel more confident and capable. Encourage them to choose what to wear or what to eat, and don't force your preferences on them. Let them know that you trust them enough to make good decisions about their lives, even if those decisions aren't always ones you agree with.

3. Ask questions to have them process information

Children need to know that you're interested in what they have to say,. Even if your child is older and has a lot of friends, you can still ask questions like, "What did you do at school today?" or "How was your day?" This will help build a sense of trust between you and your child.

4. Encourage risk-taking

Children that are encouraged to take risks tend to be more independent than those whose parents try to protect them from every possible danger. Risks don't have to be huge. Even things like riding a riding bike without training wheels can help kids develop an awareness of their abilities and limitations.

It also helps if you encourage risk-taking in your child's education by letting them take on some responsibilities at school or in other areas of life that may be outside their comfort zone. Doing homework assignments with limited supervision, for example.

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5. Celebrate mistakes

Children need to be praised for trying rather than punished for failing when they make mistakes. Parents who overreact when their kids make mistakes can cause their kids' self-esteem to suffer and limit their initiative further down the line.

6. Responsibility chart

One way to develop autonomy and responsibility in your children is by making them accountable for things such as their personal hygiene and household chores.  You can motivate your child and help him/her feel more independent with Kairos’ editable routine chart. You can start creating and editing your own kids’ morning, lunch, evening, or bedtime routine. With Kairos’ routine cards, you can also make your child's daily tasks easier!

7. Keep disciplinary actions proportional to the problem

Discipline is an essential part of raising independent children. However, you should use discipline proportional to the problem. For example, if your child spills her milk on the floor, you should not yell at her or reprimand her furiously. 

Instead, tell her that spilling food on the floor is an unfortunate mistake that happens to everyone and that she simply needs to clean up after herself. After cleaning up, try to open a dialogue on what went wrong. Was it because she was moving around without being careful of her surroundings? Was it intentional to get attention? These types of reflective discussions are great to introduce self-awareness to kids.

Kairos

In partnership with UQTR, Kairos is the only technological and playful solution for routines tested in a clinical study. After more than 8 weeks of use, the vast majority of participating families noticed significant effects on several routine-related irritants. Kairos is a clinically proven technological solution for your child’s routine. It allows you to repeat the same instructions less often, makes your children more autonomous to do their routines without supervision, and improves harmony.

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