Healthwise
To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Preschoolers: Encouraging Independence

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Preschool-age children develop a sense of independence by practicing skills and doing things for themselves, such as getting dressed or brushing their teeth.

Children who are not allowed to perform tasks on their own get the message that they are not capable. Children may then learn to always expect help and remain dependent. Although it is often easier and faster to do things for children, take time to allow them the satisfaction of taking care of their own needs as appropriate. For example, allow your child to work on getting dressed with elastic pants and pull-on shirts. Or encourage your child to brush his or her teeth. Since it takes practice to become good at these and other daily tasks, a good compromise is to let a child start the project, then finish the job together. Praise efforts rather than outcomes. Avoid criticism and keep your expectations realistic.

Independence sometimes can be frightening for children. Be understanding if they have a sudden need for your help or presence.


Credits for Preschoolers: Encouraging Independence

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics


Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.