Fostering Childhood Independence
My 2.5 year old does his own laundry, puts dishes away, cleans up his own toys, and pretty much doesn’t need me anymore… HA! We can dream, some dreams are bigger than others. It doesn’t mean they aren’t possible, we just have to make a few adjustments in the way we parent; from birth, children are naturally in pursuit of independence.
We need to be willing to provide opportunities for developing independence. Doing this is not just to help us as parents get some reprieve, but it is so crucial to building a sense of self, self-esteem, and ultimately assist with their level of frustration, and perseverance. We will need to accept; tasks may take longer, may be 3 times as messy, and we will have to watch them fail, feel frustrated, or feel disappointed.
So how do you make this an easy adjustment for you and your kiddo? Set predictable routines. When they can anticipate their day, naturally children feel more equipped to take on responsibilities for themselves. It builds trust and trusting children builds self-confidence; you have faith in their ability to complete routine tasks without you and they know you are always there to help if they need you.
Let them choose; provide 2-3 options for them to choose from, be sure to always provide options you are 100% confident following through with. These types of choices can range from what to wear or what to play with. Let them feel empowered, crossing the street without you isn’t an option. Offer, Mommy can hold your hand or you can be carried; still nourishing empowerment while also keeping them safe.
Let them help or give them small chores. Honestly, children truly love it! It allows for an easy redirection or calming a tantrum while also giving them a sense of control. What does this look like, don’t overthink it. A family that bakes together, stays together! Premeasure items and put in small pitchers/cups, let them pour it into the larger bowl. Provide tools their size, remember their hands are smaller and still learning everything they are capable of. Have a small bowl with soapy water and a towel nearby, let them help with larger tasks like cracking eggs.
What is happening when we do this? We as parents are communicating trust, we know they can take on these tasks. It is an opportunity for back-and-forth conversation about the activity or shared goal. You are encouraging a sense of responsibility and self-reliance, developing executive functions, teaching teamwork, and nurturing empathy. Helping prepare a meal or simple tasks teaches them this is a part of life; I should want to help versus being forced to help.
Encourage and nurture free play, problem solving, and projects. Independent and unstructured play fosters creativity, critical thinking, and autonomy. Remember, sometimes we have to let them fail; this is hard. It makes me uncomfortable watching my lil dude struggle with a task; we learn to crawl before we walk and walk before we run, they will push themselves if we allow the space for them to keep trying and will ask for help when they truly need it. My 2.5 year old helps me load the washer, turn it on, pour the detergent, press start, and move to the dryer. Laundry takes a lot longer, but now when something is dirty and needs to be washed, he will drag his laundry bin into the laundry room and start loading the washer himself. Be sure to see them; see their efforts, their persistence, their bravery, and their growth and let them know you see it!
The ultimate goal is to provide a nurturing and loving environment for our children, while also teaching them to be self-sufficient, kind, empathetic humans. This is no easy task, but if we as parents can shift our way of thinking, practice more patience, and provide ourselves and children with grace when something doesn’t get done or isn’t done just right we will be one step closer to our ultimate goal.
Here are some helpful items to help make this a little less challenging:
For more ideas, just reach out!
About the Author
Hi I’m Anesih!! I started out as a Bumbelou Customer and fell in love. I have been a part of the Bumbelou team since October and have loved every minute of it. Outside of Bumbelou, I am a Mama to a beautiful 2 year old, Ellis. Literally the day Ellis was born, I told my husband, Jake, we need to move closer to your family and you need to make it happen.
As you get to know me more, you will see I have a passion for all things related to children, and have a background in Early Childhood Education. I am excited to be able to share that passion with you, through Bumbelou.