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Teaching Kids Independence: Learning How to Ask For and Offer Help

Learning how to ask for help is an important part of teaching kids to be independent! Have you taught your children this important life skill?


Teaching Kids Independence: Learning How to Ask For and Offer Help

There are a lot of things children need to be able to do independently by kindergarten: they need to know how to sit and listen, raise their hands to answer questions, open snack boxes, zip lunch boxes closed, and follow directions. They are also expected to learn the names of classmates, teachers, and other adults, and to remember the layout of the school. It’s a lot for you a child to remember!

Because of this, I find that knowing how to ask for help and how to offer help is one of the keys to teaching kids independence! Knowing who and how to ask for help when school life gets confusing will help kindergarteners navigate early months – and I find that the benefits cross over at home with calmer, kinder, and more polite children! Teaching children to reach out and empathetically help classmates who are struggling is a wonderful way to help them find friends who will be kind and loyal to them. I LOVE hearing that classmates have helped out my daughter by teaching her how to play soccer on the playground or showing her how to get back to her classroom when she got lost in the hallways. I hope my son can have similar experiences!

Here are some things I do to teach my kids how to ask for and offer help:

  • Teach them how to ask politely for things they need and help at home
  • Thank them for asking politely without prompting
  • Offer opportunities for them to help siblings (as a bonus, I feel this promotes sibling closeness)
  • Praise them for helping siblings without being prompted to do so
  • When they have a problem, wait to jump in and and help to see if they can figure out a way to ask for help or solve the problem on their own

Of course, there are basic independence skills I am teaching my kids as well, but asking and offering help will cover the items and circumstances I forget or fail to predict!

How do you teach your kids independence?

Get Ready for K Through Play button

This post is the third of eight in the Get Ready for K Through Play series I am working on with Bernadette of Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas, Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons, Vicky at Mess for Less, Cerys at Rainy Day Mum, and Kristina at Toddler Approved. Be sure to check out their posts as well:

Drop by our Get Ready for K Through Play Pinterest board for more ideas!


MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

13 thoughts on “Teaching Kids Independence: Learning How to Ask For and Offer Help”

  1. I never thought of teaching my kids this but it makes perfect sense. It is a lot to navigate at a young age!

  2. That is such great advice for kids of all ages! Knowing how to ask nicely and politely for advice is something all teens about to go to college need to so how wonderful to start doing this in preparation for Kindergarten!

  3. MaryAnne,

    This is awesome. As a student teacher, I find myself sometimes dealing with children who lack independence and it’s often times frustrating for them and those around them. And I agree, that this is important to develop before getting to kindergarten. Will be reading up on these series of posts.

    -Ana xo

  4. Great topic! My son will need encouragement to ask for help. I like to sometimes ask him for help with something I know he has confidence in. Little kids being helpful is so cute!

  5. For independence, J picks out his clothes and puts them every morning and jammies at night. J gets a say in what we eat (but we still have ultimate veto power with meals). Routines help so he knows what is expected of him. I think school works well when it comes to routines, but it’s that adaptation period that could be tough.

  6. Great tips mama!

    In my opinion, the best way of teaching is to teach through example. I ask for help all the time – and they see it. I figure things out myself, and they see it. They see the beginning, middle and end. They see the struggles, they see everything.

    I don’t think that’s showing them weakness, I think it’s showing them about life.

    Thanks for the excellent post!

  7. Oh, those are really good points! I should focus more on that, especially on offering help. So important for self-preoccupied single children! :)

  8. Elisa | blissfulE

    Praising my kids when they do something great without being prompted is such a wonderful parenting tool – I use it every opportunity I get!

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