6 Ways to Teach Your Daughter Independence

Parenting and raising a self-reliant daughter is a delicate balance between allowing her to discover things on her own and making sure she’s not feeling neglected. Your involvement in your daughter’s life will always be beneficial. But if you do too much, or even everything for your daughter, you’re not only robbing her of opportunities to learn life skills but also sending a message that you don’t trust in her abilities.

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Independence boosts self-value and self-esteem, and according to veteran startup mentor, executive, and author Martin Zwilling, being independent is a key ingredient for entrepreneurial success. Even if your daughter has no interest in becoming an entrepreneur, you can still encourage her to develop a self-starter attitude that will benefit her in life, regardless of the path she chooses, with the following suggestions.


Your daughter needs someone to look up to and learn from, and you’re the best candidate for the job! It’s not that tough–you just have to remember to lead by example. You may even have already noticed that your daughter observes and models your words and actions. It’s never too early or late to do a self-evaluation and ensure your behavior promotes independence. Strive for progress, not perfection, as a role model.


Age-appropriate chores are great tools that teach basic life skills. When assigning household duties to your daughter, include time for training and proper handover, so she learns to complete tasks on her own without you continually looking over her shoulder. This set-up allows her to feel a sense of accomplishment and understand what it’s like to make meaningful contributions.


While your daughter learns the ropes and accomplishes tasks independently, continue to set her up for success with evidence-based growth mindset practices such as cultivating a passion for learning, valuing effort, teaching grit, and setting high academic attainment expectations. This approach helps your daughter become more independent because she will learn that skills improve with practice, mastery takes time and effort, and persistence pays off.


Aim for a daily routine. The more consistent, the better. Eventually, your daughter will become less reliant on you and take charge of her responsibilities without constant reminders from you. Solving problems on her own, especially the ones she can handle, will become second nature to her.


Get everyone in your household on board and share the responsibility of fostering independence in your daughter. If you and other family members, including involved grandparents and nannies or babysitters are not on the same page, it can be a source of confusion for your daughter. It’s for your daughter’s benefit that you form a united front with everyone who interacts with her regularly.


Carve out quality time with your daughter and check in on her. Encourage her to share her feelings and express her fears and frustrations. Keeping the lines of communication open with your daughter gives you insight into how well she’s coping with challenges, stress, and failure, which you can use as a teachable moment for resilience and independence.

Whenever you encourage your daughter’s sense of autonomy, you provide your daughter with the belief that she can competently handle life’s ups and downs. You also give her the chance to strengthen her ability to view challenges as opportunities, one of the many traits most important for budding young entrepreneurs

This post originally appeared on The Startup Squad Blog.

I've always built businesses, from a childhood gummy bear business to adult gigs at IMAX and Coupons.com. I founded The Startup Squad to help girls reach their potential and my book series, The Startup Squad, is published by Macmillan. I live in Silicon Valley with my wife and two daughters.


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