Teaching our Children to be Self-Reliant Learners


Here are three basic principles we can use to help our children to love, learn, and progress in their path toward self-reliance, when it’s easy and especially in hard times.

Set the example

This principle is one we often hear over again. Being an example is repeated in our learning because every action or word we use either influences our children for good or bad. If we want our children to learn to be self-reliant learners, we need to give them an example of what self-reliant learning looks like. Do your children know that you are studying and improving physically, spiritual, emotionally, and mentally? Do they see you ask questions and seek answers?

Part of helping your children become self-reliant learners is to teach them these four questions and principles to consider before making decisions:

1. How am I feeling? Have them ask themselves this question before reacting to a situation.

2. Why am I feeling that way? Sometimes there is a very apparent reason they feel the way they do and other times they may need help to understand their feelings.

3. Know that others see us differently than the way we see ourselves. When confronted with a situation or question, it is good for children to know that they can learn by trying to see their actions from another’s point of view. Then decide if it needs to be changed or not.

4. Know that God knows more about ourselves than anyone. This means they can ask Him for help with anything they are struggling with. Find what they believe is the answer then take it to the Lord for conformation.

See here an article on teaching children.


The greatest way to teach children is to listen to them. It helps you learn about what they are worried about, things they are struggling with, and how you can help them become more self-reliant.

Use these reminders when communicating with anyone, especially your children.

1. Do not prepare a counter argument or advice while others are sharing.

2. Do not interrogate or cause them to be defensive.

3. Do not order or demand.

4. Do not attack or criticize.

5. Do not sidestep a question.

That may sound like a long list of “don’t do’s,” yet that’s because we are more effective when using positive reinforcement, especially in teaching and setting the example. Our children are more willing to listen to us if we use positive tactics.

If a child comes to you with a problem, concern or a question about something, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. When children come to you visibly upset, state what you see. “I see you are upset.”

2. Ask them to share with you why they are upset. This is where you just listen, even if you don’t like what you hear.

3. Repeat in your own words to them what you understand they are saying or feeling.

4. Use empathy phrases such as, “I am sorry all of this happened.”

5. Ask them what you can do to help. Don’t take it over and fix it for them. This is a good time for them to learn to problem solve. If necessary, ask them if they need a few ideas on how to overcome this. It is important to let them ask you for help and tell you exactly what you can do. If they ask you to do it for them, and they really need to learn how themselves  tell them in a kind way that is a good project for them to learn from. “I am sorry and I believe this is a good project for you to learn from”. Is there something else I can do to help?” Children need to be self-reliant too. This is how they learn to problem solve.

6. After they share what they want help with, you may ask them if you can share your ideas or feelings. If they feel understood, they are more willing to be taught. Again, do this kindly and with none of the previous “don’ts.”

This process can be difficult at first and we as parents aren’t perfect.  Yet with continual practice of these tactics you can build a strong connection with your children that will allow them to feel safe coming to you with questions or problems as they continue to learn and grow.

Provide opportunities for independence

The following are a few helpful techniques in teaching self-reliance skills to your children— Starting with toddlers and older children learning a new skill.

1. Do for them while they are watching. For example, find an answer for them while they watch. Or do a chore for them while they watch.

2. Do the action with them. Both child and teacher with hands on.

3. Observe them while they are doing it. Not to find fault but to see if more teaching is needed.

4. Let them do it on their own.

5. Have them teach someone else what they just learned.

Giving children opportunities to learn and develop skills can bring families together and stronger. We want to make it so our children can survive and thrive without us.

Kristena Eden

Kristena Eden has also published several books, including Book of Mormon 1-2-3s, and Prophet Joseph’s 1-2-3sFind them all at deseretbook.comShe believes that when we read to our children, we instill trust, direction, and a deep personal connection that surpasses childhood. Read together and then read some more.

Kristena is a personal coach. You can sign up for a free 20 minute consultation on her website or by emailing her at kristena@corelivingessentials.com

Read more from her at corelivingessentials.com or find her on facebook 

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