It’s just a little thing with big results.

Monday, June 27, 2011

12 Small things that parents can do to promote confidence, independence and responsibility in their children:

Allow your child to make their own breakfast – this is such a simple thing. If you are concerned about the mess, pour some milk for them or transfer a small amount of milk into a suitable jug and the cereal into a suitable small container that they can then use to put into their bowl. My children have been serving themselves cereal from the age of 3 years and it is a special treat when I serve it to them If you serve them toast then allow them to spread the butter.

Allow your child to dress themselves – Most of the time, it’s ok to allow your child to leave the house with mismatched items, they will have a sense of independence. and the other option is to reduce their wardrobe to items you do like them to wear then there may be less chance of a debate.

If you are concerned that your child is wearing too little in winter, take an extra item along for later. Some children don’t like wearing warm clothing, sometimes because it is due to the texture. Some children may wear something if they know you will be wearing the same or the opposite. Perhaps there is someone who they admire or look up to, an auntie or niece who they may want to copy and you could say “they may be wearing such and such would you like to?”

Allow your child to pick a chore – initially choose two chores you would like your child to do around the home. Then give your child the option to choose which one they would like to do, this makes them feel that they are in ‘control’ of the job, they picked it and it will give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Allow your child eye contact – not just when you’re angry with them but sometimes when they’re interrupting and rushing to tell you something, look at them in the eye, listen to their story.

Allow your child to think - when appropriate, ask what else could you have done? What will you choose to do next time, what will you do/say next time someone says that to you? How did it feel when?

Allow your child to learn – see thinking above. Also, if your child blames the situation, circumstance or their friend/s when they have got into trouble or done something wrong, don’t get into an argument but try to teach them what to do in similar situations. Encourage responsibility by saying something like “well that wasn’t the best option or choice, what can you do next time (such and such happens or your friends do that)?”

Allow your child to solve simple problems/dilemmas – see allow your child to learn above.

Allow your child to be creative – hear what your child has to say and encourage or prompt further story telling if your child shares something imaginative. Also, listen to what they would do in a situation, praise them for their idea and then you may make a suggestion of your own.

Allow your child to dream – See creative, allow your child to think anything is possible, afterall if that is squashed at a young age what hope is there for any of us.

Allow your child to play – not every activity needs to be a learning activity, on the contrary, most learning happens during free expressive play. Allow them times to play. Watch them, preferably, from a distance and learn more about your child. Listen to the language or words they are using during play.

Allow your child to be – leaving them to play on their own is a good thing. Let them ‘entertain’ themselves or be by themselves for short periods while you do something in another room. Also, if your children constantly argue and look for you to step in to stop this, try to wait it out or ask them what they expect you to do.

Allow your child to perform – it’s okay for our children to want to show us things, if they do this all the time, explain that you’d love to have a show at (time) on (day/night) and they should practice until then. Children always want to show off their skills and it’s okay to let them do it but not always convenient rather than watching half heartedly or with one eye on the tv or the computer, set a showtime or talent time in your home where skills, talents can be displayed, perhaps you as a parent want to join in and tell a joke or two.


Krys - Baby Massage said...

Thanks I really liked this post. Lots of ideas for me to think about.

Jacqui Honeywood said...

Great post, some really good, solid advice here. With our first boy I did everything for him and he didn't really mind, but he also didn't learn independence. With our number two - well completely different scenario, at 2.5 he can get his own breakkie (yes it's messy), dress himself (yes his pants are almost always on backwards), wipe his own bottom (I don't really need to go into that one) and is extremely independent partly due to his personality but also partly because we've encouraged him to have a go. If only we'd known that with our eldest!

Parent with Potential said...

Thanks for your comments. It is never too late to start and it makes a parent's job so much more enjoyable when we hear those words "I can do it myself". They are just small things but they make a real difference to us and most of all our children.

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