Your babies are growing up fast. Maybe faster than you want them to. But look on the bright side– with age comes maturity, and with maturity comes independence. Think about it: There are probably things that you don’t love doing for them, so whether it’s time that they start tying their own shoes or preparing their own cereal, here are five tips to help you get there.
1. Work On It Together
Come up with a list of tasks that you think your children are ready to take on, and talk with them about which ones they find appealing. They will appreciate having input rather than being told, “OK, as of today, you’re brushing your own hair.” And hopefully they will take on the challenge with gusto. The list can be your guide moving forward, so once they’ve accomplished the first task, you can move onto the next.
2. Give Them Time
Most new tasks take some getting used to, so allow time for that. If you can, do a test run over the weekend or on a day when you don’t have an early morning commitment. Don’t assume that your child knows what to do– talk through the steps, and then let them demonstrate it for you.
3. Go Time
Until things are going smoothly, allow extra time so that your children (and you) don’t feel pressured. Don’t hover. And forget perfection. As long as what they’ve achieved is functional– i.e., their hair is combed but still looks a bit slept in, go with it. Offer gentle feedback if you think they are open to it, but don’t criticize.
4. Praise Success
With every new task your children take on, let them know how proud you feel and how grownup they are. This can help to instill a sense of accomplishment and should leave them feeling ready for more. When you think that they are up for the next item on the list, approach it with enthusiasm. As each skill is mastered, don’t forget to enjoy the time it frees up for you!
5. Give ‘Em A Break
If some tasks don’t go smoothly, it’s important that you don’t give up. Keep reinforcing the skill and allow ample time for completion. Some skills might be genuinely difficult to master, or there might be an emotional component because some children are not ready to “grow up.” Some relish independence, others don’t. Be mindful and proceed slowly. Also, if your children seem overwhelmed, don’t push. Step in to help and try again when they are ready.