Parenting strategies: the self-sufficient kid
The other day, I walked into the living room and found my 7 year old daughter with a screw driver in one hand, some batteries in the other and her walkie talkie dismantled. "Wow", I thought, this kid is really self-sufficient. Perhaps not a big deal to many, but for me it was a proud mother-moment.
When I think about parenting, one of the most important skills you can give a child is to be independent and self-sufficient. A parenting class on this topic alone would be fantastic for the upcoming generation.
Fostering autonomy doesn't have to be difficult.
Here are three simple things to keep in mind:
1. Go through your house and make things easier for your child so he or she doesn't need to ask for help. Provide younger children with autonomous opportunities to fit their size. I first realized the importance of this when I was potty training my eldest daughter and we went on vacation. In the hotel lobby bathroom, there was a small toilet and sink, the perfect size for her to wash her hands. She was excited to use this restroom independently, and I did not need to pick her up to help her wash her hands. Most of us are not going to completely renovate our bathrooms, but it is simple enough to put a stool in the bathroom. Place books and art supplies where your child can reach them. Fill a low drawer in the kitchen with cups so your child can get a cup of water on their own. The list is endless, but providing children with these opportunities in the home can help foster their independence.
2. Teach your child how to do things. Taking the time to teach your child skills is invaluable. Not only does it provide quality time for you and your child, it gives them skills that will last a lifetime. When my 7 year old changed the batteries in her walkie talkie, my 5 year old declared that wanted to learn too! My 7 year old and I then took the time to show her how to change batteries. Obviously different ages bring different stages and different abilities, so it is important to gauge what is appropriate for each age. But if possible, I always recommend teaching a child how to do something, rather than always doing it for them.
3. Finally, give your child a chance first and don't rush them. Too often, because we have places to be, we forget to slow down and give our kids a chance to do age-appropriate tasks independently.
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