The day we bring our babies home from the hospital, they are dependent on us as moms for everything. For food, love, diaper changes and being transported everywhere they need to go. The needs of a new baby are all-consuming, and as moms we can get so used to doing everything for them, that it’s hard to recognize when our child is ready to do certain things for themselves.
As soon as your child takes their very first steps, they begin a natural journey of moving away from you. And that’s the goal moms! One day we want them to be confident and independent adults (although hopefully adults who visit often). As moms it can be difficult to let our kids take these steps toward independence, but if you start when they are young, you’ll find the high school years are easier to manage and that college and beyond is not as scary a world for them, or you!
So what does this look like practically?
Well, as soon as your child is about 3 years old, let them help choose their clothes and even dress themselves. Even if they can only manage socks or slip-on shoes, asking your child to do simple things for themselves will grow their confidence and at this age – they love showing you, “I can do it!”
Have mom-approved snacks positioned on lower shelves of the pantry so that when your child asks you for a snack, you can tell them to go choose something for themselves. In the kitchen this can go even further by putting your child’s cups, plates and utensils in a lower cabinet. When it’s time to eat, have them get their dishes out for you to serve their meal on. They will love having a role in what mommy is doing.
When you go out to eat, teach your child to order their own meal and look the server in the eyes while they speak. If grabbing Chick-fil-A is more your style right now – empower your child to go ask for their own refill from the order counter. These small things teach your child confidence when the stakes are low and pay off big time as they grow older.
As your child moves into elementary school, make sure they help pack their lunch and unpack their backpack when they get home. I had a rule that from 3rd grade on, my kids were responsible for doing their own homework. It is so hard not to jump in and “help” them with their projects, but getting a bad grade in 4th or 5th grade because they didn’t do their best work is a good lesson for them. It will pay dividends down the road when they are in high school or college.
Often times as a mom, we do things for our child, not because they can’t do them themselves, but because we want whatever it is done “right” (our way), but this doesn’t teach independence, it actually encourages co-dependence. If you want your child to be a self-confident adult, then raise them up with the attitude that they are very capable of doing things on their own, because they are.
Love you all,