As we celebrate our country’s independence day, we need to remember the importance of teaching children to become independent. Independence is the I in my T.R.I.C.K. philosophy, and the core foundation of our country.

My goal has been and continues to be to expand independence of thought to children and teens in ways that enhance their sense of self and community. The goal is to empower them and make them feel in control. It is when kids feel cornered and have no options that the problems arise. A study from University College London found that people who perceived their parents as less psychologically controlling and more caring growing up were more likely to be happier and satisfied as adults.

Below are 7 easy ways to enhance responsibility, trust and independence in kids and make your life as a parent easier.

1. Add plants to your home

Kids can look up plant characteristics, learn how to nurture them, and take ownership over a plant. It teaches responsibility and helps your home feel happier. According to a recent study, our mental well-being increases as we have more engagement with nature. You can even order plants online on Amazon (OMG, it is true) if you don’t want to go to a nursery, and they will deliver in a couple of days.

2. Add a low-maintenance pet to your home

If you are up for it, the next step up in responsibility is getting a pet.  The easiest pets are goldfish, turtles, hamsters and rats. My daughters had pet rats and turns out rats are VERY smart. They learned their names, followed commands, and would run around a little maze my daughters made for them. We also had a dog and a cat who produced 7 kittens. The kids had a lot of responsibilities, spent many hours with them and gave me time back. Turns out pets are a great way to teach responsibility and trust especially if you, the parent, don’t jump in and do all the work.

3. Try sidewalk games

Let kids set up hopscotch on the sidewalk or the back patio. Hopscotch teaches collaboration, promotes physical activity, and let’s kids design a game of their own imagination. There are lots of sidewalk games that kids can do and all they need is chalk. Very simple, very fun, and an opportunity to be very creative.

4. Go on a treasure hunt

Have the older kids set up a treasure hunt for the younger kids. Not only does this support independence, but it also teaches collaboration and kindness. It is fun and easy. You don’t need to buy anything new.  Let them come up with the rules or find rules they like online.

5. Share family stories

Share your favorite childhood stories with your kids and then let them write them up in a special book. It will be treasured for a long time. My kids wrote stories in little notebooks I bought at the local store and they saved them. Today they love sharing those notebooks with their kids.

6. Create homemade coupons

Kids can create homemade coupons for special favors they can grant to adults or siblings in exchange for special things they want. It is an art and collaboration project.

7. Interview relatives

Encourage your kids to interview relatives either in person or online. They can write up the story of their grandparents, for example or their favorite aunt or your childhood best friend. It is fun for them to interview people and they learn A LOT of important skills.

These are just a few ideas of my own but there are many ideas from great websites. These resources can help. And if you need more help, please send me your questions of challenges you are facing as a parent. I'd love to help!

Feel free to join me in a conference that I am speaking at on July 10 called Light At the End.  We are supporting the Infant Foundation in their search for a plasma to mitigate the severity of COVID-19 so it will be more like a cold.  Whatever they discover will be available to the whole world. Tests are in their final stages and could be much easier to implement than a vaccine. It illustrates collaboration at its finest.