Teaching tweens independence is not just a one-shot deal. You have to be persistent and consistent, working at it throughout the tweenage years. There isn't just one magic tip or activity that you can do to ensure independence. It's a way of life you lead together, combining everyday things to get the final result. For us, it has been an ever-present effort that ultimately leads to them keeping the attitude required for independence and leadership.
Give tweens newer, more difficult tasks. At this stage, your child should already be doing certain things independently. But expanding that into more areas is key to your tween's growth in independence. For instance, if your tween normally only rinses the dishes, have her wash and dry them too. If your tween
Give tweens full responsibility for any pets they have. Your tween may already have small pet-related tasks, such as feeding them, cleaning food dishes, playing with them, etc. But try slowly adding on more tasks as can be handled until the pet's full responsibility is up to your tween child. For instance, a 7-year-old may play with her hamster, feed her, and give her small treats as necessary. As she can handle it throughout the months and years, cage changing and cleaning and other tasks can be added.
Start teaching tweens to babysit with 'mommy's helper' tasks. Depending on your tween's age and maturity, being what's called a mommy's helper can aid in teaching independence. A mommy's helper is a babysitter or nanny that tends to the younger kids while the responsible adult is still present. Basically, this tween will be responsible for entertaining siblings and preparing simple snacks and meals. It's similar to babysitting, except that there is a responsible adult around to handle the more serious tasks. A mommy's helper usually busies the younger kids while mom works, cleans, or handles other household duties.
Enroll your tween in a sport or extracurricular activity. It's true that being involved in sports and activities teaches kids teamwork. But it also teaches independence. They have to learn to do things without you there to help. While you may be sitting on the sidelines at a game, it is up your tween to take action. It's especially helpful if your tween becomes team captain or gets to lead one or more classes with activity instruction.
Be independent yourself. If your tween sees you depending on others to get things done, that's the example that will be followed. But if you show that you can do things with or without the assistance of others, that can go a very long way. Because I work from home without a boss, my kids have seen me be very independent from the start. Even when I held more traditional jobs, I've always been a do-it-yourselfer. Whether you think so or not, the things you say and do are going to rub off on your kids.
Don't be afraid to let go. Some of the resistance to independence tweens can feel may be due in part to your own resistance. If you can't let go of the security blanket, then neither will your tween. Being free to do things and make decisions on their own prepares tweens for life. While you can't completely let go at this stage, it's important to ease up on controlling the things they can handle on their own.