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As parents, it’s within our instincts to want to do things for our children. We want to nourish them, make sure that they have their every whim and need catered to. The idea of relinquishing some of that and letting your children be more independent is worrisome. Not only are we concerned with the idea that they will do something incorrectly, but there is also the nagging fear that they are growing up too fast and we’re going to lose our babies.
Of course, this is an understandable sentiment. Nevertheless, it’s one that has to be batted to the side. For the sake of their development, children need to be able to learn and adapt for themselves. As for being concerned about the idea of them doing something incorrectly… well, that’s kind of the point. The only way to really ensure children understand the consequences of their actions is for them to live with the consequences.
Whether you’re an old pro at encouraging your children to be more autonomous or are now just attempting to make a start, there are a few ways you can go about doing so.
Give Them Responsibility For… Their Bedroom
The idea that kids have untidy bedrooms is such a cliché - but it’s predominantly a cliché because it has a tendency to be true!
Tidying your room seems like a mundane chore when you’re a kid. Even if as an adult you understand the reasons why it has to be done, you can still remember the way you rebelled against the idea as a kid.
The best way of them learning the importance of tidiness is to let them see what life is like without it. After the third time they lose their homework or their discovery of a forgotten bowl now complete with mould growing on the surface, they will quickly learn that tidier is better.
Give Them Responsibility For… Your Family Pet
This needs to be monitored fairly closely for the benefit of your pet, but if you do that, then everyone wins.
To kids, a pet is a wonderful, fun creature they love to hang around with. They don’t often see the less thrilling side of having a pet: the vet bills, the regular wormer and Frontline for dogs and cats purchases, the nail and claw trimmings and the bathing duties. So introduce these one at a time. Encourage your children to monitor a schedule for when worming and fleaing needs to be done, when claws are due a shortening, and let them get involved in the bath time process. They’ll soon learn the ins and outs, while still getting all the benefits of having a pet.
Give Them Responsibility For… Plants
If your children are younger or you don’t have pets, it might be an idea to start with plants. Try and choose hardy plants that can handle a bit of neglect if they forget: the common spider plant is a good starter, as are succulents like aloe vera.
Give Them Responsibility For… The Food They Eat
Learning to eat a healthy diet can never start too soon. Try and involve your children in meal planning, right down to letting them pick recipes and come with you to the grocery store for the ingredients. As a side benefit, this kind of involvement might also discourage any picky eater tendencies.