Lots of people talk about instilling independence in your children--leaving them to play by themselves or having a separate sleeping space. But, here are my personal thoughts on independence---it can't be pushed. I personally don't think it's independence if there wasn't any choice involved in it. It's just the way life is. So, how do you encourage without forcing?
I thought of ways that my parents taught me independence. Since my memory doesn't serve me very well in infanthood, I think mostly about my teenage years. Partially from tight finances and partially from wanting to teach me responsibility, my parents told me that if I wanted things--new school clothes, a driver's license, insurance, etc.--then I needed to have a job. Thus began a great career at Little Caesar's Pizza (har har). My parents also had me pay for my own college education. There were a few times when they would spot me $20 here or there, but for the most part, I payed for it (or at least mortgaged my future...)
But since I don't have a teenager, I have an infant, I wonder what sorts of ways I can help encourage independence and responsibility at a young age. One of the ways we've come up with is letting him feed himself. If he doesn't want to eat, he doesn't have to. If he wants to, we provide the food but he does the feeding. My plan for separate sleeping spaces is that when he wants it, we'll provide the means and some gentle encouragement to stay in his own bed.
What are some ways you've found to encourage independence in your youngsters?