Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Encouraging Independence In Children


Parenthood is full of precious moments. Seeing two lines on the pregnancy test, feeling the first movements and kicks to birth, first smile, first drawing. The list is endless! 
To me though, the sweetest and most enjoyable thing about being a mother is seeing my son become independent. I love observing how he develops his communication, social and motor skills. From seemingly little things, like him holding the teether in his hand for the first time to first steps, brushing teeth, building sentences or making his own choices. It melts my heart.

And yet I hear everyday parents complaining about their kids being lazy or not independent. Trust me- nobody was born lazy. Nobody was born helplessSome were brought up this wayAnd I am not talking about a teething 2-year-old, wanting to spend the whole day in mum's hug. I am talking about 8-years-old not being able to peel a banana, or 30-years-old not being able to make a sandwich. Don't even ask me how many of them do I know! 


Why are some kids not independent?
Well, the answer is the family house. Some parents do not have the patience to share the duties with their kids. Because cleaning, vacuuming, or doing laundry takes twice as long with them. 
I totally understand that it can be difficult, and I don't judge the parents who don't want to involve their kids in the domestic duties, but I also know that if they are not thought to put their toys back as babies, they won't have clean rooms as teenagers
More and more often I hear that parents pay their kids for 'helping out at home'. Dusting, cleaning their own rooms or taking the rubbish out. I have lived on this planet for over 26 years, and I have never seen a single successful person who was bribed to do simple domestic duties. The awards system doesn't work.
And yes, I know that we can always hire a housekeeper to maitain cleanliness at home, but it should to be an alternative, not a necessity. 
Last but not least- some children have too many toys and clothes, and they simply can not manage to keep them all organised. Unnecessary clutter is overwhelming for adults, let alone for kidsToys rotation and a decent declutter can solve this issue 😊


How to encourage independence in children? 
START EARLY
Independent kids are happy kids. Allow your child brush his hair and choose his outfit, let him take part in preparing food and cleaning. Trust me, even vacuuming is exciting for kids! People are born with this phenomenal gift of curiosity that needs nurturing.
My son loves snacking on fruits, but he is much happier when he can pick the fruit he wants to eat, wash it, cut it and put it on the plate (well, his favourite ones are usually eaten right after being cut). 

Obviously, I do not advise handing a massive knife to a toddler, but there are some handy tools that kids can use under the constant supervision of adults.




TEACH YOUR CHILD A POSITIVE APPROACH TO LIFE
Try not to complain in front of your kids about having to cook 'this f%$&*#^ dinner' or doing 'the f%$&*#^ dishes again'. Aim to teach your offspring a positive approach to life. 
PS I wish too that the magic cleaning/ running errands/ cooking/ facing problems fairy existed 😊

LEAVE SOME CLEANING TOOLS AVAILALE FOR THEM
Kids would do more if they had the right tools available. Leaving a brush and a dustpan somewhere, where they can easily reach will encourage them to use it. Similarly, it applies to all areas of their life. If their clothes and shoes are easily accesible, they will want to leanr how to put them on. 
If you create a snacking station for them, they will learn how to prepare simple snack easily. 

CONCENTRATE ON BUILDING THEIR PHYSICAL CONFIDENCE AND DEVELOPING GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
When it comes to supporting baby's physical development, there are two major aspects to think about:
Firstly, building the baby's muscle strength by practising 'tummy time' daily.
Secondly, not hurting your baby.
Make sure you use the right baby carriers and introduce them at the right time (when your child sits up independently). 
PS surrounding them with pillows to 'help' them sit up is extremely harmful. So is using the baby jumpers. 
And once your baby takes his first steps, and you suddenly are facing the eternal problem of all of the parents on this planet  (do I stop him, or pray and let him climb), choose to let him climb/ run/ explore the world. It is difficult! My inner worrywart wakes up every time my son tries to something new, and I want to call the ambulance before he even attempts climbing, but I know that I just have to let him try. 


BE A TRUSTING AND CONFIDENCE ENCOURAGING PARENT
Kids who grow up with trusting and confidence encouraging parents are much more independent and successful in their lives. Today your child confidently chooses his favourite outfit, the toys he wants to play with, or his favourite fruit. Tomorrow he will confidently decide which house to buy, business to invest in or which escape route is the safest from the building on fire. 

If parents don't trust that their child can make the sandwich at the age of 8, they won't trust that he can build the company and gain an international success as an adult. It is important that we give our kids roots as well as wings and the courage to fly.



DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE GIFT OF LOVE
The children who feel loved are more confident and independent. We have received a gift of unconditional and limitless love, and we can not forget to remind our kids daily how much they mean to us.

VALUE THEIR EFFORT
So many of us, adults, don't live our lives the way we want, because we are most afraid of two things- failure and what will others say. And again, this is because many of us grew up with very judgemental parents.
We have to let our kids know that it is OK to make mistakes. And that we love them unconditionally, no matter if they won the dancing contest or they chose a different passion over dancing.  
Your child will most likely spill some water when pouring it into the glass for the first time. Your reaction to it will have a massive impact on the way he feels, on his self-confidence and if he decided to try pouring the water again.


BE A PARENT AND A FRIEND IN ONE
Your kids will come to you with all their problems and successes. The bond between you will be unbreakable! 

DON'T COMPARE YOUR CHILD TO OTHERS
Don't compare your child to others. Especially the way he looks. He is one of a kind! Instead, explain to him that there will always be somebody taller/ shorter, slimmer/ chubbier than him, and it is OK. And he is perfect just the way he is. 


NEVER MOCK YOUR KID!
Too many times I have witnessed shocking situations where parents were mocking their kids. For many reasons. For the smelly pooh they made, or the spelling mistakes. For crying. For falling off the bicycle. For the way they look. 
I can not find the right words to express how disgusting it is and how much it ruins one's self-esteem, happiness and sometimes life. Some parents do that because they don't know how to react to new or stressful situations. 
A person constantly bullied at home will not be confident.

TRY THE MONTESSORI APPROACH
I love Maria Montessori approach to education and bringing up kids. Her method encourages confidence, independence, helps to boost child's imagination and creativity, and sets no limits in what one can achieve and learn. I highly recommend reading about it, if you haven't alredy. She was one of the first people to speak publicly about respecting children and respect is the core of her method. 


We are all born with a natural desire to learn, discover and make progress. Every child has the great potential to live a happy and successful life, and every child will if only his parents give him the right tools.

We all have bad days, and we all make mistakes. Parenting is a rollercoaster of emotions, powered by limitless love, sleepless nights and endless visits to the GP.  But trust me- all of our efforts will pay off. 
So, chin up parents! It can be done. 

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14 comments

  1. I'm a very independent person and I can see that my girls are taking after me, especially my youngest.

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    1. Awesome! I truly admire strong, independent womenx

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  2. My mummy loves setting me tasks and asking me to do things for myself, because how would I ever learn myself. Pushing kids out of their comfort zone helps as well x

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    1. Couldn't agree more! Thanks for reading Isabella and Isabella's mum x

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  3. This is such a great post. I agree with all you have said. I am working on making my kids more independent and confident in time for school starting in Sept.

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  4. Great post! My eldest daughter really struggles with separation anxiety and this is really great advice!

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    1. I am so glad to hear that! Thank you X

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  5. I step back from situations when I hear "mummy, I want to do it". Yes things can take longer to get done but we need to give our kids independence when they want it. As you said, it's necessary for later life too.

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    1. It is! The independent kids will be independent adults, free and powerful :)

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  6. My kids love doing some of the jobs around the house, like dusting and vacuuming. Makes my life easier too

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    1. It does :) Thanks for reading, Kara x

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  7. Hey Gosia, great post! I'll be sharing this on my Facebook page. I also have a couple of related posts over at DynamicDad.uk that you might be interested in - on raising smarter kids & how screen time affects their 'entitlement'. With these combined we'll be raising kids as the best they can be!

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    1. Thanks a lot Dynaic Dad! It means a lot to me x

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