How to Teach Independence

by Sesame Lane Admin on 6/03/2017 5:51:31 PM
When you think about your little one as a teenager, what do you see? Do you still plan on doing their washing, ironing and cooking, or will they help a lot more around the house? It may seem like it’s too far off to be thinking about, but the skills you start teaching them now will help them be more independent as they grow.
But how do you do it?
The fact is parents are doing more and more for their children than ever before. And this may be stopping them from learning some necessary developmental skills. Even your pre-schooler needs a little independence to thrive.
How young is too young?


Household Tasks Your Child Can Do (And When)

From as small as 2 you can start teaching your child to do things for themselves. This may not be super helpful when you have a pile of washing that needs ironing, but it’s a start. And by the age of 3 your child should be able to:
  • Dress him/herself (with a little assistance)
  • Help put their clothes away
  • Tidy up their toys
  • Brush their teeth
  • Wash their face
  • Help set up and clear the table at mealtimes

From 4-5 it changes slightly and they can handle a little more responsibility. At this age your little one should be able to remember certain names and numbers, like their phone number and address, or how to make an emergency phone call. But around the house your child should be able to:
  • Brush their teeth, wash their face and hair without help
  • Choose their clothes and get dressed without assistance
  • Feed any animals in the house
  • Help with chores like dusting and clearing the table
  • Assisting with laundry tasks
  • Identifying money and understanding what it’s used for
As they reach the age of 6 your kids can start helping a little more around the kitchen (although you may feel they’re ready a bit younger). By this point they should:
  • Be able to make a simple sandwich
  • Put groceries away
  • Wash the dishes
  • Help cutting food with a dull knife
Now, these are all well and good, but how do you get your child to perform the chores?
How many times do you have to ask “will you tidy your toys up please” before they do?


Make It Fun, Be Inventive

Kids are naturally do-ers. They love helping and you’ll probably notice your little one imitation you already as you potter around the house. But making it fun is a surefire way to teach a little independence in your child.
  1. Have a chore chart with whatever reward system your child would appreciate
A month of chores could add up to having a day out together as a family at their favorite place, or a week of chores could mean going for ice cream. Whatever works for you. Although, beware, these are a great place to get started but the novelty wears off.
B) Turn the kitchen into a party.
Your kids are at the perfect age for silly games like this. They will love it and it will play right into their imagination. One of you can be the chef, one can be the DJ. The chef can choose what food they would like to help prepare and the DJ picks the music.
C) Imagine and create.
What’s your kids go-to character? Do they love playing dinosaurs or doctors? Whichever they prefer you can turn doing laundry into a world full of dinosaurs, or the hospital.
D) Get Tough
No, this doesn’t mean get mean with your child until they actually do the chores. But there is every chance simple tasks around the home just won’t satisfy your child. They will soon need something a bit more challenging to keep them going.
Remember how we said reward charts lose their charm? This is what to do when that happens. Kids love a challenge. They want to feel like they’ve been given a tough task and they’ve won.
Are they used to cleaning out after their pets? Get them to do it all by themselves, and then challenge them to do it quicker.
Are they bored of simply pulling weeds in the garden? Give them a shovel, let them dig up the dirt and help plant new plants.
Anything new, challenging and physically strenuous will be right up their street. They will love helping and feeling truly useful. And they’re learning a whole host of skills along the way.


What’s the Big Deal?

You may be asking, why are chores such a big deal? We know, sometimes it’s much quicker (and easier) to get the chores done yourself. But before you know it, they’ll be 10 and won’t help you at all.
It’ll be much harder to get them to cooperate the closer they creep to their teenage years.
Chores teach independence. We know, we’ve said it a few times already. But this is super important in raising a successful and well rounded adults. Through giving your children a little independence they will:
  • Learn through trial and error
  • Have higher levels of self-esteem and self-belief
  • Be better prepared to deal with stress and failure later in life
  • Have the opportunity to choose what makes them happy
It may not seem like bringing chores into the mix will do all that, but it will.
As they gain independence they will start making more mistakes, which is great. This is how they learn best. When you kid has taken a tumble how many times have you said “well, you won’t do that again will you?”
It may seem like an innocent phrase, but it’s the truth. And learning this way helps build their self-esteem as they realise that mistakes are part of the process. Making a mistake doesn’t mean they’ve failed, it means they’re learning.
Teaching your child to be a little more independent will be an emotional rollercoaster. But whatever feeling they have along the way:
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
You need to let them know that these feelings are normal and important, but they will pass. The better equipped they are to deal with these stressful, negative emotions the less important they’ll be as they grow. Your child will learn resilience to them and will push through tasks even when they get angry, sad or frustrated.


Letting Go of Control, It’s for the Best

As parents we want to wrap our little ones up in cotton wool and protect them from the big bad world forever. But there comes a time when the best way to keep them safe, is to let them make mistakes.
Letting go builds their confidence. If they don’t believe they can perform a simple task without you, how do you think they’ll do at school? It’s important to have confidence in your child’s ability to be a separate human being, and if you believe in them they will believe in themselves.