Teaching your child independence can be a difficult task. I mean how can you blame them? They are born into a world where we feed, change, and bathe them. They are reliant on us for everything. As they grow older, you struggle to find the ‘right’ time to give them independence (I know I do).
- We don’t want them making a mess everywhere, so we do it ourselves.
- You don’t have enough time in the morning for them to change themselves because their muscles immediately become lifeless, so it feels like hours for them to take their socks off
- They melt your heart because they assume you don’t love them because you are refusing to help (holy mom guilt!)
- They cry and get frustrated, and you don’t feel like listening to it
- They get more soap and water on the bathroom floor then their bodies
- Your anxiety shoots through the roof just looking at the mess they are making
The list could go on and on, but of course you don’t want your child growing into their teenage years being completely dependent on mommy and daddy. Trust me, I’m totally guilty of ‘not cutting the cord’ as my husband would say and helping my kids with everything.
Give yourself (and them) some extra time. You always should remember in the back of your head that they are learning, it doesn’t take a few minutes to completely tackle something you’re not used to doing. Think about it…
- It’s hard to run a marathon if you’ve never ran before
- It can take a few tries to perfect a new meal if you’ve never cooked
- You don’t learn to swim after the first time in a pool
Things take practice, so your little ones need that extra time. I’ve started giving my son and myself 20 minutes of extra time every morning so we don’t get behind and he can do his morning routine on his own.
Organization. I’ve learned that an organized environment is extremely helpful for a little one becoming independent. My son has an organizing shelf in his room that toys used to be thrown into randomly.
- Cars mixed with LEGOs
- Trains mixed with Action Figures
- Paw Patrol mixed with Blaze and the Monster Machines
That’s no longer happening. We now place each item into different bins so the process of cleaning his room is easier. He quickly knows where everything goes, and he doesn’t get super frustrated during the cleaning process. Now that he is starting to read, I’m going to label each bin so he can read off what toy goes where.
Use safer and smaller cleaning supplies. A big responsibility I’m trying to teach my son is cleaning up after himself.
- He leaves his juice boxes laying around
- gummy wrappers sitting on the couch
- plates left on the dinner table with crumbs all over the floor.
Luckily my son enjoys cleaning, but only when Mommy is doing it too. When he must clean up his own mess, it becomes devastatingly hard to accomplish. So, to help him out we bought a mini broom and gave him his own little bin of rags, wipes, and a small spray bottle of kid-friendly cleaner. If he gets to spray something, he loves it. So, I try to work around what he enjoys so it becomes a ‘fun’ chore to tackle in his mind.
Let your kids know you trust them. There is where the ‘cutting the cord’ comes into play for me. Give them some freedom when it’s time to play or clean up.
- Allow them to go outside while you watch from afar
- Leave their bedroom when it’s time to clean it
- Have them run out and check the mail while your inside
This can be a huge confident booster for your child and it can help make them believe they are capable of more, but you will always be there for assistance. It could reduce the number of outbursts with them complaining that they can’t do it or that it’s too hard. Maybe it’ll also motivate them to do more independently.
Be there for them. Always be their number one motivator. Stay calm and motivate them along the way. If there’s a mess after they attempt to pour their milk alone, tell them it’s okay and that they are learning. Grab a rag and have them clean it up. If you get upset then that will make them upset, and their confidence goes out the window. Praise and positivity are two great ways to communicate to your child.
Independence is a learning experience in the end. There will be multiple failed attempts before you succeed.
That goes for adults too. We’ve gone through it.
With success, comes reward. My son knows that if he successfully completes his chores, he receives a dollar. When he doesn’t complete his chores, or complains then he loses a dollar.
I do believe in letting your kids be rewarded when they complete what they are asked, but I also don’t want them to become greedy, hence why the money will be taken too.