Encouraging Independence In Your Children

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child mowing lawn

child mowing lawn

As a mom of a large family, there are times when I am tempted to just do things that need to be done around the house because of the time factor.  I realized that not only was I running myself ragged, but I was teaching my children nothing.  How was I going to teach them to be independent if I kept doing everything for them just because it was “quicker and easier” to do so?  I sought advice from my wise grandmother on the subject.  Here are some of the things I learned.

Learn to Let Go

I am a perfectionist at heart.  I had to learn to let go of my desire for perfection in order to encourage my children on their path to independence.  When my children, who are visually impaired, started doing the dishes, a lot of things got broke.  I was very tempted to tell them that they were officially relieved of the job of dish duty FOREVER.  I couldn’t though–for their own good.

One day, they will live independently and they will have to do the dishes without breaking them.  They’d better learn now.  I did, however, decide to buy a set of plastic dishes to help us work through the interim.  If things got dropped, at least they didn’t get broken!  We’ve now progressed to “regular” dishes and we are doing very well.  I’m glad I didn’t relieve them of dish duty now.

Practice Makes Perfect

After children are taught a concept, it takes a while for them to “get it”.  Remember how long it took to teach your child to tie her shoes or to ride his bike? Sure, it took a few minutes to teach your child the concept of the skill, but it took a while to practice the skill in order for your child to be able to master that skill.  It also takes a while until your child perfects the skills that you have taught him to help him become independent.

One of the skills that I have tried to teach my children are cooking skills.  I believe that all children should learn basic cooking skills and that these skills will help them to lead a more independent life as they mature.  This means that we’ve endured a bunch of burnt pancakes in the process.  It would be easier to just say, “never mind, I’ll cook from now on.”  But this would teach them nothing.  It also wouldn’t help them in their journey towards independence.

Fear Not

We live in a crazy world.  It’s tempting to keep your kiddos under your watchful eye 24/7.  At some point though, you have to teach them some safety skills, take a deep breath, and allow them to venture out into the world.  While you can’t shelter your children forever, you can give them the tools they need to handle a variety of situations safely and calmly.

Luckily, the journey towards independence takes around 18 years, if not more.  You don’t have to cram all of these skills into your child in a short amount of time.  Start today taking small steps to encourage your child on the journey to independence.  You’ll both be glad you did!

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