Yes, like the Fourth of July we can break out the fireworks and celebrate independence when our child learns simple tasks and in turn takes those tasks off our “to do” list! Often times we may miss this celebration because we fail to see that small growing pains now, mean bigger mommy free time rewards later. Teaching kids independence may initially take more work but independence of a child supports the whole family.
As parents, our job is to prepare our kids for the “real world” and teach them how to be independent. These lessons start when they’re very young and continue until they finally leave home, all the while your kids are gaining more and more independence. There are a few necessary lessons every child should learn at a young age to start to become more independent. And once they learn them, they’ll be able to help you out as well! Here are four lessons of independence every child should learn.
Teaching Kids Independence May Initially Take More Work But It Pays Off
If you have been in the position of doing a task for your child because they cry and throw a fit leading you to just quickly do things for them in order to move on, you need to read this excerpt from Kristi Pelzel’s book: “Kid-ganize! – Teaching Kids To Be Organized”. It illustrates really well how it is easy to sometimes just do things for your children instead of encouraging kids and allowing kids to be independent.
(Excerpt reprinted with permission. )
When Stephen was 4 years old he received his first pair of kids designer shoes with laces. He had learned to tie them on his own the week before his mom had to go out of town. The day she returned, she walked in the front door to see Stephen sitting on the stairs diligently trying to tie his shoe.
After saying hello, Stephen told his mother that he couldn’t do it.
His mom started to reach down to do it for him when his father walked down the stairs and stopped her. “He can do it!” he exclaimed.
Stephen started crying. Looking to his mother, he again told her he couldn’t do it. Before his mom could get too upset with her husband he said, “If Stephen wants to go to the park and play he can tie his shoes.”
About twenty seconds later Stephen had tied his shoes and was jumping into his dad’s truck. Mom was amazed at Stephen’s hidden skills that magically surfaced with the right motivation.
Dad was building Stephen’s independent foundation and mom hadn’t given Stephen enough credit for his abilities.
Think About It
Are we holding our kids back by trying to do everything for them?
How important is it to transfer skills, like getting organized, that lead to independence?
Do we let them out of the task if they whine or cry?
Ways Of Encouraging Independence In Children And Lessons of Independence Every Kid Needs to Learn
It is one thing to abstractly say teaching kids independence is important and another to provide activities which will teach children to be independent. These four ideas will are great ways to teach children skills that will provide them with independence, empower them, and be great life lessons all at the same time.
Everyone needs to contribute around the house and kids are no exception. Helping out around the house will teach them how to care for their own things and it will prepare them for their future job. Assign each child a short list of age-appropriate chores like setting and clearing the table, watering the plants, picking up their toys, and running the vacuum. Teach them to pitch in when someone else needs a helping hand, like when a sibling has a big school project they need to work on.
Your kids may not be ready to take on all the laundry just yet, but get them started with simple tasks like sorting clothes and folding the clean laundry. When they’ve mastered those skills, you can move on to washing with a little supervision until they get it right. Create a chart for your laundry room to show them what cycle and temperature they need for each type of load. If you have a top-load machine, you may need to keep a step stool nearby. Once you feel confident that they know what to do, give them space and let them do it themselves.
Order at a Restaurant
Kids can be shy and sometimes have trouble communicating with a stranger, but they need to learn. Polite communication is part of everyday life and, if they plan to eat out when they grow up, they need to learn to communicate politely and respectful to a restaurant server. Remind them to look the server in the eye and remember to say, “please” and “thank you” and use table manners. If they have a special request, tell them they need to let the server know. Having the confidence to speak up for themselves is a skill they will always need.
Cooking Teaches Independence
Your kids may not be ready to use knives or turn on the stove yet, but there are plenty of other kitchen skills they can learn with your help. Show them how to put together their favorite after-school snack, make a sandwich, or mix ingredients for a cake. Cooking with kids is a great way to introduce them to basic cooking skills. There are plenty of great cookbooks geared towards kids, get one and let them choose a recipe they’d like to try. Teaching them to bake can also be educational. Using measuring cups and spoons teach math skills and how to properly measure for a recipe. The more they can do on their own, the more confident they will become.
When it comes to teaching your kids to be independent, these lessons will take them far. Are you working on teaching kids independence? What are your best tips?