How do you teach your kids to be independent?

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Sometimes I think that animals have it so lucky because their offspring shoots out of the womb with the ability to walk and, in the case of baby sharks, find their own food! I don't want to be a shark or anything, but there are times that I feel a twinge of jealousy. Liam has been easy to make a self-starter: he folds his own clothes and puts them away; he sets the table; he's still at the age where helping is cool. Ewan thinks helping is akin to ruling the world and is incredibly gung-ho about it whereas Liam is beginning to catch on to our devilish plan. The problem is that Ewan's desire to help and do things for himself has a lifespan of three seconds and bribes don't work. So the question is: how do you raise independent kids?

7 Comments

It is really heard for me sometimes to not just do things for my two daughters because it is just easier, but your right, they need to learn. We lucked out in the sense that both my 8 year and my 4 year old are pretty independant, but they still have their daddy wrapped.

-cvd
www.geekstink.com

I just let my 8 and 6 yo's go to Vincents by themselves.

I give my kids choices. Most of the time they will choose for themselves.
When it comes to my son's brushing skills, I've told him that I have to either start or finish the job. I figure it's still a choice...

After my daughter, who is nine, asks me to do the same thing for her more than, say two or three times, if it's something I know she can do, then I show her how to do it rather than do it for her. I agree that sometimes it is easier to just do it for her, but at that rate, I'd never have any time to do anything else. She's bright, and once she figures out she can do something by herself, she doesn't want anyone else doing it for her. Each kid is different, however. Choices, like the other Mom said above, are also available to her. I tell her she can do it my way or her way, and most often, she chooses to do it "her" way, since it makes her feel like she's more in control. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, well...sometimes its just a big ol' mess. ;o) But, it works more times than not ;o)

I don't know if its birth order or genetics, by my 2nd child is much much much more independent than his older sister. Always has been. I wonder if I babied my firstborn too much, and then let the 2nd run a bit wilder. But she whines for help ("Mommy! You didn't cut my meat"...she's 4.5), and he problem solves (find a stool, open silverware drawer, extract knife, climb back into high chair....did I mention he's just turned 2?). It helps that he's exceedingly bright and that he decided, by about age 6 months, that he could do anything his big sister could do. The teenage years scare me...

I love your take on allowance. My parents are both accountants, so it was important to them that we understood the value of a dollar more than what to do with that dollar. They made us up a list of chores. Some of the chores were "family" chores, things that we had to perform because we were part of a family and a family cannot function without everybody's help (cleaning our room, setting the table, washing the dishes, etc) (although my mom says now she used to go back and re-wash the dishes later lol). And some of the chores were "money" chores, things we didn't have to do, but if we did we could earn money: washing dad's car, picking up dog crap, etc. Those chores could only be performed once or twice a week and they were first come first serve lol.

I love that I grew up without the "here, have ten bucks" attitude my friends had. I had to work for my money and it made me value it more. They also made us "pay taxes" and set aside money for college savings and charity, so that as we got older we learned more and more about money management, but the most important part of it in my opinion was always instilling in my mind that money didn't grow on trees.

Or in Dad's wallet. Or whatever. Great Momversation!

I liked your funny intro, Dana. Very entertaining. I am surprised that you don't believe in allowance...but, that's why I like your writing, always full of cool surprises, never boring.

I try to teach my child to be as independent as possible, however, much that I do that she could do for herself is motivated by the fact that I will be the only one to clean it up AND it will sit there until I do it. The husband will pretend that pile of stinky towels or the contents of the tube of toothpaste on the sink or the contents of the craft box laying on the floor for the dog to eat and die from, does not exist. I am getting better at it though-- I can actually take her to the playground & read a little on a bench without freaking out about her climbing too high. I have set up an art area that she can access herself for spontaneous projects. I let her choose SOME of her own music, etc. Luckily, she has always been skilled at wiping her own butt!

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