Are you doing too much for your kids? Find ways on raising a self sufficient child and gauging when your kids are ready to be more independent.
Sometimes we assume kids still need our help with everything. We save them from struggle, making it easy to overlook the importance of self sufficiency.
And taking a step back to allow our kids to try is hard. We save five minutes to tie their laces ourselves than teaching them how to do it. We avoid the big messes that follows when they feed themselves. And we also feel needed and can’t believe how quickly our kids are growing.
But at some point, kids demand to do things themselves. Or they’re forced to, especially if we’re welcoming a new baby and need them to be more independent. Encouraging self sufficiency is crucial to raising the future adults we want the to be.
The importance of raising a self sufficient child
Raising a self sufficient child offers many benefits, such as:
Imagine the delight of a three-year-old as he realizes he can wash, soap and dry his own hands, or the pride in a first grade child as he chooses which clothes to wear.
Self sufficiency builds the confidence kids feel in being more independent. After all, being self sufficient is another achievement or milestone he reached. And especially after many tries, finally being able to do something himself feels gratifying.
Your child will beam with confidence as you encourage self sufficiency. He gets to do what you had always done for him. Kids love to feel grown up, and their self-confidence grows right alongside self sufficiency.
If you’re like me, you’d rather undress your child for him than watch and wait what seems like forever for him to do it. Or your six-year-old takes a good two minutes to tie his laces when you know you can do it in five seconds flat. Doing everything for your child is tempting when you know you can do it faster. Especially when you’re in a rush.
But in the long run, you’ll save everyone more time by encouraging self sufficiency. It might take a while. Your child will take two minutes to tie his laces the first few tries, but after a while, a miracle happens: he’ll also know how to tie laces in five seconds. By doing more for himself, he frees up your time.
I love that my kids can do so many things I used to have to do for them. Simple things like putting on their shoes or cleaning up toys on their own, washing their hands or putting dishes away. Yes, it took time to teach them how to do these things, but now that they’ve learned, their independence has saved me a ton of time.
Learning the skills kids need
We forget what our number one job is as parents. It’s not to make them happy, or even provide them with everything we never had. It’s to raise them to be future adults.
Think about it. If after 18 years, your child still can’t do the things most adults can, then that can’t be a good thing. Self-sufficiency now prepares him for many of the requirements he’ll need as an adult.
Even as children, they’ll need to learn skills to go through childhood independently. Learning how to brush his own hair, or cut his own food, how to problem-solve without giving up.
Opportunities to be self sufficient teaches them important skills they’ll need throughout life. Grit, perseverance, independence, strategy, discipline, and a positive attitude are just some examples.
How to raise a self sufficient child
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Now that you know the importance of raising a self sufficient child, what are a few ways you can practice it at home? Below are a few ideas based on many ages.
- Encourage your child to take the next step up. If you’re spoon-feeding, you can scoop the food but put the spoon in his hand and guide it toward his mouth. If you’ve been cutting his sandwiches into bite-size pieces, slice it in quarters so he can bite it off.
- Introduce new feeding items. Graduate from sippy cups to regular cups. Introduce a fork so he can poke food. Allow him to use a blunt knife to cut his own meals.
Using the bathroom
- See if your child can pull his pants and undies down or up to use the potty.
- Allow him to turn on the faucet, pump the soap, and scrub and dry his hands.
- Have him undress himself for bath time and place his dirty clothes in the hamper.
- An easy chore to start is having your child wipe surfaces. You can spray while he wipes with a rag.
- Kids can bring plastic dishes to the sink after meal times. Teach them how to properly hold a plate so it doesn’t spill crumbs.
- Implement a clean up time where they put away toys on their own
Struggling with getting your kids to do their chores? Want to develop good habits from the start? Join my newsletter and download my Printable Chore List templates to help you and your kids organize chores:
The thought of letting your child do things on his own can be scary. Between my husband and me, I tend to be the one who still does things for kids. It’s faster, less messy, and I can do it much more efficiently and effectively than they can.
But that’s not the point. Raising a self-sufficient child isn’t about who can get it done faster, cleaner or quicker. It’s about raising kids with the confidence and skills to do things on their own.
No spoon-feeding necessary.
p.s. A fantastic children’s book to read about self-sufficiency is All By Myself by Mercer Mayer:
Get more tips:
- 6 Useful Back to School Tips for Parents and Kids
- Raising College Bound Kids (Because It’s Not Too Early to Start!)
- Help Your Child Transition to Preschool (and Calm Your Nerves as Well!)
- Parenting Your Strong Willed Child
- Help Your Child WANT to Behave
What ways do you encourage self sufficiency in your kids? Which activities were you surprised to realize that your kids had caught on rather quickly? How do you gauge when your kids are ready to be more independent?