Are you doing too much for your kids? Learn the importance of raising a self sufficient child and tips to encourage independence.
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.
After all, taking a step back to allow them 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 follow when they feed themselves. And we feel needed and can’t believe how quickly they’re growing up.
The importance of raising a self sufficient child
But at some point, our kids will 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 them to be. Raising a self sufficient child offers many benefits, such as:
1. Feeling confident
Imagine the delight of a three-year-old as she realizes she can wash, soap, and dry her own hands. Or the pride in a first-grader as she chooses which clothes to wear for the day.
Self sufficiency builds the confidence kids feel in being more independent. After all, being self sufficient is another achievement or milestone they reached. And especially after many tries, finally being able to do something themselves feels gratifying.
Your child will beam with confidence as you encourage self sufficiency. She gets to do what you had always done for her. He loves to feel grown up, and his self-confidence grows right alongside his self sufficiency.
2. Saving time
If you’re like me, you’d rather undress your child for her than watch and wait what seems like forever for her to do it. Or she takes a good two minutes to tie her laces when you know you can do it in five seconds flat.
Doing everything for her 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. Sure, she’ll take two minutes to tie her laces the first few tries, but after a while, a miracle happens: she’ll eventually do it in five seconds. By doing more for herself, she frees up your time.
I love that my kids can do so many things I used to have to do for them, like tying their laces, cleaning the bathroom, and washing the dishes. Yes, it took time to teach them how to do these things, but now that they’ve learned, their independence has saved me a lot of time.
3. Learning essential skills
We forget what our number one job is as parents. It’s not to make our kids 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. Practicing self-sufficiency now prepares her for many of the requirements she’ll need as an adult.
Even as a child, she’ll still need to learn skills to go through childhood independently. She needs to learn how to brush her own hair, cut her own food, or problem-solve without giving up.
Opportunities to be self sufficient teaches her important skills she’ll need throughout life. Grit, perseverance, independence, strategy, discipline, and a positive attitude are some examples.
How to raise a self sufficient child
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:
1. Doing chores
- An easy chore to start is having your child wipe surfaces. You can spray while she wipes with a rag.
- She can bring dishes to the sink after meal times. Teach her how to properly hold a plate so it doesn’t spill crumbs.
- Implement a cleanup time where she put away toys on her own
Free printables: Struggling with getting her to do her chores? Want to develop good habits from the start? Join my newsletter and grab your Printable Chore List templates to help you organize chores:
2. During mealtimes
- Encourage your child to take the next step up. If you’re spoon-feeding your baby, scoop the food but put the spoon in her hand and guide it toward her mouth. If you’ve been cutting her sandwiches into bite-size pieces, slice it in quarters so she can bite it off.
- Introduce new feeding items. Graduate from sippy cups to regular cups. Introduce a fork so she can poke food. And allow her to use a child-friendly knife to cut her own meals.
3. Using the bathroom
- See if your child can pull his pants and undies up and down to use the toilet.
- 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.
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The thought of letting your child do things on her own can be scary. Between my husband and me, I tend to be the one who still does things for our 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 a child with the confidence and skills to do things on her 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
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your Printable Chore List templates to help you and your kids organize chores: