Fostering Your Child’s Independence

Do you ever finding yourself doing everything entirely yourself. Your kids are playing or reading, they run into the kitchen for a snack. They leave the plate and the crumbs on the counter and you’re running full speed trying to get the laundry done bathing the little ones and preparing tomorrows lunch for them… and more and more things to do.

Did it occur to you to ask your children to do some chores? Perhaps you did and soon decided against it thinking it’s faster if you do it yourself and there won’t be any mistakes along the way. But in the end you’re left with all the mess feeling helpless from the overload and resentment from your children’s insensitivity. “Why don’t I get a moment to sit with a cup of coffee,” you may ask yourself resentfully.  You’d love to have everyone else’s cooperation in household chores; you wouldn’t even mind some help or at least consideration for all you do.

All this starts with fostering your children’s independence. The more they do for themselves the better. And this can’t be because you’re tired and can’t help them. You must have them do things for them to learn how to master the task and become more and more independent with time. They will learn to take responsibility for the things around them and will go into life with a lot of confidence.  

How do you do it?

Let’s first make a paradigm shift. Our gut reaction watching our kids do something is that “they won’t succeed” or that you want to be nice to them because “they’re in school all day so is it fair that I give them even more to do”? “I just did the floors if I let my children eat in the kitchen alone I’ll have to do the whole house all over again!” So let’s take these thoughts and reframe them in positive terms. “He will succeed in what he can and I will help him with the things he couldn’t do himself.” Or “It’s true he was in school all day but it’s important for him to learn to do things himself. Or, “It’s okay if the kitchen gets a bit dirty at least my child will have learned to eat on her own.”

Secondly, you should believe that your children are willing and able to learn the things they need to learn step by step. For example: Your 2 year old daughter has a runny nose. Instinctively you will run for a tissue and wipe her nose. This time stop… Ask her to get a tissue from the table, take it out and put it on her nose. These are all things she can do unassisted.  Later she can learn to wipe her nose and then even blow it but for now she can get the tissue herself. Don’t just do it all yourself. If you are consistent she will soon be able to clean her own nose and in this same manner you will see your children picking up skills for life and loads of confidence.

With older children the tasks are more complex so you may need to explain what needs to be done and at first you should be ecstatic with imperfect results too if you want them to keep on trying. What will come out of all this is that your children will gain independence by having life skills and confidence. They will feel adult and able to take on challenges and be proud they can be counted on.


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