by Kimberly Flanagan
As mothers, we want to do everything for our children and we want to protect them from everything but if we are being realistic, that’s not really possible. Children need to eventually grow up and be able and capable adults who can fend for themselves and take care of themselves.
I really don’t believe that we raise our children to be attached to us for the rest of their lives, we need to teach them life skills and help them become self-reliant. So it’s important that we start raising them to be independent from a very young age and no, I’m not saying kick your three-year-old kid out of the house and force them to get a job, let’s not get crazy. I’m saying, teach them skills and habits like picking up after themselves, helping themselves get to the bathroom, making sure they know what is right and wrong and of course, teaching them good values is the most vital part in making helping them become independent teenagers and eventually, independent adults.
Also here is a little mommy secret; if you raise your children to take care of themselves you have more time to sleep. (Don’t tell the dads)
If there is something your toddlers can do for themselves, like the things I mentioned before; picking up their toys, going to the bathroom by themselves (potty training is important) or even the smallest things like washing their hands before they eat or making up their beds, even if they do an untidy job of it, the point of all that is to teach them that you will not always be there to do things for them and they need to realise that they can’t always ask you to hand them things on a silver platter.
It’s not always going to be easy, you and your child will be fearful but in the end, it’s good for both of you (Remember the sleeping thing? Yes, that!)
Another important and positive factor about raising independent children and starting them off young is that it gives your children confidence in their own abilities and it allows them to trust themselves to make decisions. They can always come back to you and ask for your advice but try and leave the decision up to them.
Praise them and make them feel proud when they’ve done something for themselves and let them know that you are proud of them as well. That will also show them that you trust them and trust between a mother and her child is imperative.
Again, I’m not saying leave your little ones to their own devices, I’m saying guide them and lead them and allow them to make mistakes and then use those opportunities to teach them.
And make it a fun experience, don’t shout them or reprimand them when they don’t get it the first time. One thing I’ve personally learned about this is that teaching your kids to be independent takes a lot of patience, like a lot. (No really guys, A LOT with a bit of extra on the side)
Make it playful because kids learn better through play. Don’t think that just because you are teaching your children to do things by themselves that they won’t need you anymore, your children will always need you, even when they are grown. It just makes the process of parenting easier and it’s nice when you have a little human around the house who helps you clean.
Have fun with it and always do it with love!