How to make your child self-sufficient
Created by Neha Gupta Mittal Updated on Sep 28, 2019
It's nearly 9 AM, and school starts in 30 minutes. You need to do the 20-minute drive, and then drive to your own workplace, with traffic crawling at a snail's pace. You look impatiently at your child who seems to be taking his own time putting on his socks. The urge to just barge in and get him fully dressed and ready is irresistible. But here's where your patience will pay off. When you let him be, he will soon be well on his way to becoming a self-sufficient individual.
Raising your child to be a self-sufficient individual is about taking a step back. It is about being a guiding influence in your child's life, and not a parent who rushes in to do everything for him. It is never too early to get your child to start doing things on his own. When your child accomplishes a task by himself, no matter how long it takes, it will build his sense of self-worth. This will also put him on the path to becoming an independent adult when he grows older.
When Can I Start Teaching My Child To Be Self-Sufficient?
There is no better time than now. Whatever be your child's age, you can start with simple steps towards letting go. Toddlers start learning to use the toilet or drink from open cups. Preschoolers may be able to use a fork at meal time, or putting on their clothes.Older children can brush their teeth independently, or help in the garden. Young teenagers can visit the mall or do your grocery shopping.
What Are Some Tips To Make My Child Self-Sufficient?
- Trust him to do his job:When you give a child a task, but intervene prematurely, you're sending him a message that you don't think he can do it. Let him do what he needs to do. For e.g., if you want him to wake up to an alarm, don't go rushing in when the alarm rings. It may take him a couple of days to get used to. If he's late, he will remember to wake up on the dot the following day
- Help him with the preparation: If some tasks are too complicated, simplify them for your child, but leave the primary task to him. For e.g., you can mend buttons on the shirt he has chosen to wear the next morning, or leave the cereal and milk on the table for him to pour into his bowl. If you are teaching your child to fix his own meal, you can leave out the ingredients in bowls for him to put together
- Household chores are a joint responsibility: A very young child may show enthusiasm towards helping around at home. Cash in on these moments to make him responsible. If your child likes to shell peas, give him the task early in the day so that you'll have your peas ready to cook later. Guide him through putting his lunch pack ready for school. Have him clear out his room every night before bed. These simple tasks go a long way towards making a child self-sufficient
- Taking charge of personal hygiene: By age 8, many children can brush their teeth on their own. Similarly, teach your child to wash his hands after playing outside, or take a bath on his own
- Show your child how to problem-solver: When your child comes to you with a problem, give him ideas about what he can do, rather than solving the problem yourself. Ask him questions that will lead him to the solution
- Empathy is the key: When your child has trouble finishing a task, talk about it, and empathize, instead of criticizing. This will help her accept that not everything is perfect, and accept herself wholly without feeling bad. Don't tell her to not feel bad, or to not cry. This discourages her from acknowledging emotions for what they are, and to suppress instead of dealing with them. Share your failures with your child. Tell her about a situation that went wrong and what you could have done differently. This tells her that everybody makes mistakes, and the idea is to learn how to avoid it the next time
- Give praise: Compliments on a task well done will encourage your child to continue with her efforts, and increase her confidence. "Thanks for putting the dishes away" or "Your help with the vegetables got dinner ready in time" will tell her that her effort is appreciated. Praise your child's efforts to someone else in the room when she is around to hear it. "Mom, Trisha watered the plants today and saved me so much time!" is bound to have a positive impact on your child's development
- Set an example: If one parent relies heavily on the other to "get things done," this can send mixed signals to a child. Watching a parent pulling all the stops to get dinner ready, while the other expects to be served in front of the TV is telling your child that they can treat another person the same way. Be the person you want your child to be. Take your share of responsibility and this will teach your child to do the same
The goal of making your child self-sufficient is no easy one. It is an up-hill task, requiring endless patience and kindness. While it can be frustrating at times, the results are worth every iota of patience that you managed to muster.
How do you make sure your child is growing up to be independent? Tell us in the comments below!