02/27/2015 05:06 pm ET Updated Apr 29, 2015

Secrets to Raising Independent Children

Successful problem solvers are independent and confident children

At the age of 13, I learned some important lessons about independence. I traveled alone from Iran to Denmark to attend school.

I was living alone in a foreign country with no family or friends.

I tackled such adult tasks as buying a train ticket, checking into a hotel, preparing food for myself -- well I ate mostly McDonald's. This was all a part of my self-devised training to stand on my own feet. Every step taken was a struggle because I didn't know if I was doing anything correctly, but eventually I gradually managed to get things done.

As a parent, one of my most important goals is to raise children who will become independent and self-reliant in the future. That is not an easy thing to do on your own. Most parents are torn between wanting their children to remain babies forever and wishing for the time when they will be independent enough to do some things on their own.

The important thing to remember is we need to train our children to be successfully independent because they will not learn that by themselves. One common mistake is habitually doing things for your child that they are already capable of doing themselves. That will send your child the wrong message that you don't have any confidence and trust in their abilities. If a parent continues with that kind of behavior, they may end up with a child who lacks independence, self-esteem and problem-solving skills.

Parents sometimes think their child is still too young for being independent, but it is never too early to teach children how to stand on his own two feet.

Children need to grow, flourish and become independent under a parent's protection and with us helping them to become their best. If one's children are already independent, chances are the parent did a good job providing them with the belief that they are competent and capable of taking care of themselves. If a child lacks independence, here are four lessons I learned as a child and passed down to my own children.

1. Create an Independent Environment:
Let children help themselves. Don't help them unless they exhausted all possibilities of doing the job themselves.

2. Acknowledge an Accomplishment: Praise children for completing the task on their own. This can be any task, no matter how small it might seem.

3. Find the Courage to Let Go: Parents need to show confidence in their child's ability. In my case, my mother showed tremendous courage by letting me pursue my goals. It is easy to say, but sometimes this could be the biggest act of love one could ever give a child.

4. Learning Opportunity: By constantly doing things for a child, a parent robs them of learning opportunities. Every experience is a learning opportunity. Things adults barely notice can be interesting to children. For example, something as simple as putting toys in basket or book on the shelves can help to build organizing skill development.

In addition, the older children get, the more they realize that they are separate individuals. With that growing identity, they start to wish that they can do more things on their own. Parents need to help them.

Because the greatest gift a parent can pass on to any child is independence. That is something that will greatly contribute to their success later in school and life. When a child is feeling independent, he will learn life skills that will boost his self-confidence, but also allow him to feel empowered.

We all want our children to grow up and become independent adults. But figuring out how to get them there can be very challenging.

Parents can take simple steps that help devise an environment that leads to a child's independence. How and when parents train their children to be independent depends on their specific circumstances, but these simple steps can help parents make their children more independent.

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