Why it's important Kids who trust their instincts and abilities learn to tackle challenges without your help. "It's like the little bird that needs to be nudged from the nest to fly on his own," says Diann Branch, a school counselor at Chattahoochee Elementary School, in Cumming, Georgia.
Bring it to life Make a progress chart in which your child sets her own goals. (You might need to supply some ideas, such as brushing her teeth by herself, writing her name, and learning to count to 10). Break each task down into manageable steps or increments (such as "count to three," "count to five," and so on). Let her decorate the chart with stickers as she reaches each milestone along the way.
Read and learn Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell. Though she's tiny and bucktoothed, Molly Lou has the confidence to charm her classmates at her new school.
Originally published in the May 2009 issue of Parents magazine.