Whether it’s the constant tidying-up or the constant demands for attention, raising a child is a rollercoaster ride even for the most hands-on parents out there. For most people, the biggest challenge is time management. While an infant needs a caregiver to cater to their every need, a toddler is far more capable of helping themselves than we realize. Here are 5 simple ways to encourage your child to be more independent and self-sufficient.
- Identify opportunities for independence:
Make a list of minor tasks that your kid can perform unassisted. These can be as simple as getting them to put away their crayons after colouring, choosing their outfit beforehand, or even simply peeling their own bananas.
- Ask your child if he/she really wants your help:
It’s hard to fight the urge to step in and just solve whatever your kid is struggling with. But here’s the thing: even if a child is fumbling with a task, they often feel even happier when they successfully complete it unaided. Fight the urge, and take a second to ask, “Do you need help with that?” or “Would you like me to help you out?” and step in only if kiddo asks you to.
- Give the illusion of choice:
Children see adults taking important decisions all the time and can feel sidelined if you don’t include them in the process. That said, if you let a small child decide what to wear to a family wedding, you’ll probably end up fighting with them over the fact that a Batman costume is not appropriate for the occasion. What you CAN do, is choose two appropriate outfits beforehand and let the child choose between only those two. This makes the child feel like they have a measure of power over their own lives and helps build decision making skills too.
- Ask your child to help you:
Consider this the converse of point #2. Asking your little one to lend you a hand even when you don’t really need it helps them feel valued and gives them the confidence to try more things on their own simply out of a desire to please you. The next time you’re hanging out laundry (or some other simple chore), try saying “Can you help me with this, please?” or “I can’t do this job on my own. Will you help me?”
- MAKE THE TIME:
No matter how many tips/ blogs/ books you read about parenting, none of it will work if you don’t make the time to be patient with your child. There is not a single child who will perform a task perfectly the first time round. Be patient with your kids and with yourself. Start your routines 10-15 minutes earlier so that there’s a chance to make mistakes and learn from them without ruining your entire day.