We all know the feeling, when the clock seems to speed up just as your child chooses to slow down. From getting out of bed, to getting dressed, to eating their breakfast, it all seems to be taking double the amount of time it usually takes. Sometimes it’s easier to just shove porridge into their mouths, while you start the car and make up the lunch boxes. Although this multi-tasking might get the job done quicker, it does nothing to help your child become an independent, functioning human (which is the main idea at the end of the day). Below we have some tips to help your child become more independent at home.
Allow them more time
Give your child time to do things. Save yourself the stress and wake them up 20 minutes earlier if you’re getting them to dress themselves. Leave lots of room for error, they may want to practice their X-Factor audition in front of the mirror for a while.
Get them involved
Ask your child what jobs they would like to start doing around the house. You’d be surprised at the eagerness – we all want to be grown up when we’re young, just make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew.
The first week of your child doing their jobs might go fantastically. You might think you’ll never have to pour their cereal ever again. But these things take time, and sometimes children can regress. This is not something to worry about, unless they completely give up on the idea (via tantrum of epic proportions, you know the one). If one or two days a week they ask you to make them breakfast, don’t make a big deal out of it, they may just be looking for some comfort from mom or dad in this new, grown up world.
Don’t make any sudden movements!
Surprises are great when you, for example, have a cake, a present or a trip to Disneyland in your arsenal, but your child isn’t going to be happy if you surprise him with chores right when he’s in the middle of a fantastic, almost-over, so-amazing you-wouldn’t-understand game. Give your child ample time to finishing up playing before it’s time to do jobs. Even something as simple as giving them five minutes (when in reality it’s two) is a big help when it comes to children coping with the added responsibility in their lives.
Keep your home baby-proof
Just because your child is older doesn’t mean they still won’t be curious about different household objects (what scissors can do to hair, for example) so it’s important to keep your house safe for you child to explore, play and learn in. If you’re constantly telling them ‘don’t touch that’ or ‘don’t go in there’ or ‘wait for mom’ then your child will doubt their abilities. When their confidence is low they won’t be encouraged to act independently.
Give them lots of praise and reasons to keep trying, even when they spill milk when trying to make their breakfast. If they do make a mess, just show them how to clean it up with a cloth, like it’s no big deal. Tell them it happens to everyone and that tomorrow we can try again.
Give them more choices
Allow your child to start deciding what they want to wear in the morning, and offer them a choice for their packed lunch (within reason, obviously). Even if they want to wear their winter coat out in the summertime, let them. They’ll discover that the coat really does make them too warm like Mom said and will (hopefully) opt for the light jacket next time.
Resist the urge to jump in
It can be difficult to watch your child flail while trying in vain to button up their shirt, or spread butter on their toast, but don’t jump in and sort it for them too early! Let them try and fail, then try again and fail again. That’s how we learn to be independent.
Originally posted 2017-01-26 15:13:58.