Teaching kids to be independent

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 1:08 pm
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Kat Eggleston | 98five blogger

Last year, first day of school, I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent so I laid in bed while the kids got themselves completely ready.

It had taken five years to get to this point, but it paid off and I’m glad I invested time in teaching my kids how to look after themselves.

How did I get them to this point?

teaching-kids-to-be-independent-1 Kat Eggleston

Firstly, I thought about what kind of adult I wanted my child to become. When they go to uni or work, will they be an entitled taker and expect me to make their meals, clean up after them, do their washing and be their chauffeur?

Or will they prepare their own meals, have their own car and driver’s licence, do their own washing and be a contributor?

We’ve all come across adults who are takers and expect other people to do everything for them; they’re not much fun to be around and find it hard to fit in the real world.

So if I wanted my children to be independent, responsible adults, I needed to start training them while little.

Toddlers love ‘helping’. They like to get a little step and join in when I’m preparing food, or ‘help’ wash dishes by splashing water everywhere. I can choose to view this as an irritating interruption to my day, or realise this interest in ‘helping’ is my cue to start training.

It can be frustrating, but the secret here is to slow down, include them and look at the bigger picture. I encourage them and thank them for being helpful, even if they are making it take longer and making more of a mess.

It’s temporary.

Elijah, who was 3, got himself ready by brushing his teeth, putting shoes on (usually on the wrong feet), putting shorts on, putting his overnight nappy in the bin, drop used clothes in the laundry basket, get out the milk and his own bowl and spoon, etc.

Preschool-aged kids start to become helpful. They can fold their uniform, do dishes, make their lunch, tie shoelaces and more.

The key for this age group is to encourage the effort they put in. It’s not going to be perfect. If they make their own breakfast, they might spill the milk and get Weet-Bix everywhere. It’s not a big deal. I don’t say, “You made a mess!” Instead, I say, “Wow! Did you get your breakfast all by yourself? Well done! Here’s a cloth to wipe the bench when you’re finished.”

If they can cross their shoelaces over but not do the loopy bit, I let them do what they can on their own, and only do the part they can’t do, until they get it.

I never do things for a child they can do themselves.

Primary school kids have the potential to be independent. On this particular morning, Kale, 8, made himself scrambled eggs, five-year-old Jewel boiled eggs for herself and knew when to put a timer on and for how long, Ash, 10, drained the boiling water from the eggs and chopped up the veggie sticks for herself and Jewel, while Jewel watched the eggs. They washed their dishes. Jewel knows how to plait her own hair. It isn’t perfect but who cares? In a few years she will be so good at it people will think I do her hair.

It makes a child feel really proud to know they’ve done everything themselves.

teaching-kids-to-be-independent-2 Kat Eggleston

And, it’s nice to have time to get myself ready for my day, but what I love most is that they are on the right track to becoming adults that will take responsibility for looking after themselves.

I remind my kids there is no magical fairy that is going to do everything for them when they are an adult, and the sooner they learn that the better their lives will be.

Think about what kind of adult you want your child to become and take daily steps towards that goal.

ONLINE USE_Kat Eggleston profile photoKat Eggleston is a stay-at-home mum of four and is passionate about making a difference. As a singer-songwriter (Ezereve), $35K has been raised through her music for charities that rescue children from trafficking. While auditioning live for the X Factor judges in 2016, Kat had a revelation that the best way to make a difference, was by being the best mum she could be. Kat is a parenting blogger, regular parenting columnist for the Northern Valleys News, and facilitates the ‘Setting up Generations’ Facebook group to support mums on their journey through motherhood. ezereve.com/blog | Follow Kat on Facebook | Instagram |Twitter

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