Your questions answered

Question: How can I help build by child's independence. He is starting school soon and I am worried he will get left out at playtime?

Dr Richard Woolfson's Answer:

Independence is very important in school. Your child will be expected to look after himself, for instance, to hand his coat up on the peg, to attend to himself when at the toilet, to manage his own hygiene, and to follow instructions given to the whole class. And, as you point out, if he isn't independent, he might find himself left out during play times.

That's why it makes sense to raise your expectations of him, at this stage before he starts school. Give him basic responsibilities. Tidying his toys, putting all the pieces of the jigsaw back in the box, cleaning up the paints and paper, are all within his capabilities. Let him know that you expect him to complete these tasks without your help. You can also encourage him to make small choices, such as what jumper he will wear tomorrow or what snack he will have for lunch. Giving him two-choice decisions like this helps him to learn to think for himself. Certainly, you should also give him lots of practice dressing and undressing himself, if he doesn't do that already.

As his independence increases through your increased expectations of him and through these opportunities to stand on his own two feet without you beside him, he'll cope better with his peers in the playground.