Enhancing Self-Sufficiency: Your Big Challenge
Enhancing self-sufficiency in your preschooler and teaching them personal responsibility are two of your most difficult and necessary challenges.Children who delight in their self-care triumphs develop feelings of self-control and inner self-esteem. You play an important and critical role in helping your child develop self-sufficiency. Teaching your preschooler life-skills for self-management develops their reasoning ability, decision-making skills and allows them to feel a sense of empowerment.
Parents in Japan regularly send their kids out into the world at a very young age. A popular television show called Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, features children as young as two or three being sent out to do a task for their family. As they tentatively make their way to the greengrocer or bakery, their progress is secretly filmed by a camera crew.In this English-subtitled segment from My First Errand, a brother and sister head out to buy groceries for first time, not without a few tears.
In helping children become self-sufficient, it’s a good idea to break down complex tasks into simple steps. After you’ve been doing routines for a long time, it’s easy to forget how complicated even the most simple task can be. For example, signing your name; a piece of cake, right? Next time someone asks for your signature, try writing with your non-dominant hand. You’ll have to stop and think about pen placement, line and curve direction and size. You want to give your child his or her best chance of experiencing success, so, when teaching your child a new task, remember;easy peasy!
7 Ways to Help Your Child Be More Self-Sufficient
- Take Two Steps Back: If your young child dresses herself, resist the urge to say, “Why don’t you wear this shirt instead?” Say, “Good for you! You got dressed all by yourself.” If your child makes his bed, say, “Great job!” not “It still looks kind of messy.” The goal is to encourage independence, not to have photo-ready children or bedrooms
- Make Jobs a Little Easier: Does she want to make herself breakfast, but it’s still a little too complicated? Leave out the bowl and cereal box, and place a small container of milk within reach. (A gallon is too big for little hands.) Is he overwhelmed by all the thank-you notes he’s supposed to write? Offer to help out by saying, “I’ll address the envelopes, and you can write the notes. I’ll work next to you. What music should we put on?”
- Offer Pep Talks and Treats: Does she need a nudge to clean up her room? .Give a mini pep talk by saying, “Just think how great you’ll feel when everything’s put away. I’ll come peek in 15 minutes, OK?” Some kids find it motivating to have a kitchen timer or phone stopwatch to get them started. Others like to know there will be stickers or treats at the finish line. Since you don’t want all rewards to be edible, try giving your child a ticket for, say, 10 extra minutes of screen time.
- Compliment the Small Steps: Positive words go a long way in establishing good habits. Let them know that little things make a big difference by saying things like “I really appreciate you rinsing out your cereal bowl,” “Thanks for hanging up the towel,” “Hooray, you remembered to put your glass into the sink,” or “It was helpful that you took your shoes into your room. You used to leave them everywhere.”
- Deliver Praise Indirectly, Too: Speaking of praise, let your child hear you say nice things about him to someone else. For example: “Tyler cleaned out his closet. I’m so proud of him.” Or, “Cara finished another library book. Can you believe what a good reader she is?” Praise the kid who is within earshot, not the sibling who is off playing ball.
- Have Them Help: Instead of setting the table, cooking the meal, cleaning up, and then resenting your kids for playing or watching TV, enlist one child at a time to keep you company, such as: “Aidan, you help me today, and Madison will help out tomorrow.” Give your helper clear directions, and use the time as an opportunity to build closeness, not a chance to perfect napkin-folding skills.
- Give Clues, Not Solutions:
“Mom, do we have any Scotch tape?”
Instead of racing over with tape, say:”Yes. It’s in the top drawer of the bureau.”
“Can you get it for me?”
“No, but after you use it, be sure to put it back, thanks.”
Try not to sound coy or scolding, just comfortably matter-of-fact. Next time, he’ll know where the tape is—or the toilet paper, the colored pencils, the batteries or whatever else he is looking for.parenting.com
Self Sufficiency: Parents’ Big Mistake
The key to training your child to be self-sufficient is waiting until the child is ready to learn. One of the mistakes parents make when trying to teach their child independence is with toilet training. The term implies that you “train” your child to perform this task and that’s not the case. Around the age of 2, children will train practically train themselves in a relatively short period. Trying to train your child before the age of 2 is difficult. But, for some reason, parents’ associate toilet training as a measure of their successful parenting. And for this reason, and probably convenience, they begin toliet training before their child’s ready. This practice is a recipe for failure. Power struggles between the two of you will make this period a nightmare for you both. He or she must be mentally capable of understanding the usefulness of this skill and physically capable of achieving it. Mastering these skills should be your child’s success, not yours.
Raising self-sufficient kids isn’t just about your child making their bed, taking out the trash or setting the dinner table.
Self-sufficiency involves you telling your child what you expect and their commitment to meeting your expectations. Children age three- 5 years of age tend to forget things. So. it’s important to remind them daily of what you expect of them, why it’s important and let them know the consequences of not going with your flow.I’ll talk more about consequences for children in my next post, “Teaching Children Honesty, Compassion and Respect for Others”.