11 ways to raise a self-sufficient child

Posted on February 18th, 2016

11 ways to raise a self-sufficient child

We would do anything for our children. But that doesn’t mean we should do everything for them.

In the kitchen

After mealtime

Having a child help clean up a mess may seem counterproductive, but it’s important to let your little one help out with all the chores. Have him carry his plate to the sink, let him wipe up his spills and teach him where to put away the crockery. Save the plates for when he’s a little older.
You can also let him help you rinse the dishes by standing next to you on a stool. It’s a good idea to do this occasionally – even if you do have a dishwasher or a domestic helper.

Get him to use a spoon and fork

Let your baby try to feed himself with a spoon. Accept that the path to self-sufficiency is a messy one. Invest in a plastic tablecloth to put on the floor at mealtimes, so that the mess is contained. He’ll get more food on his face (and hair and clothes) than in his mouth, but he’ll pick it up pretty fast.
When he’s old enough to start trying to use an age-appropriate fork (plastic with rounded tines), give him soft cubed food or steamed veggies to spear. Cheer him on when he’s successful.

Give your child a knife

Okay, only a butter knife, but get him chopping. If you’re giving him some sliced cheese or apple, let him hack away at it himself. It’s great fun.
He’ll make a huge mess, but he’ll learn important coordination skills and get a sense of accomplishment.

Pour and spill

Pouring is a valuable skill to acquire early on in life. It involves balance, depth perception and hand-eye coordination. Kids can’t learn to fill a glass without spilling some milk along the way. Make a game out of pouring by giving him a plastic jug and cup.

In the bathroom

Pour and spill

Pouring is a valuable skill to acquire early on in life. It involves balance, depth perception and hand-eye coordination. Kids can’t learn to fill a glass without spilling some milk along the way. Make a game out of pouring by giving him a plastic jug and cup.

Get him to wash himself

Start when he’s little by giving him the chance to wash himself. Very few children will resist the opportunity to play with soap.
Make sure it’s child-friendly soap, so that it won’t sting his eyes. Then get him to guess which body part he’s going to clean next and let him do it. You’ll probably need to follow up with rinsing to get rid of the remaining soap for a few years.

Brushing his teeth

Most parents will have gone through a mammoth struggle to get their kids to allow them to brush their teeth. But kids are generally quite amenable to brushing their own pearly whites.
Start with a rubbery toothbrushes that helps with teething (usually with a circular guard to prevent him from pushing it too far in).
When he’s ready to graduate to a proper toothbrush, let him do the brushing first – directing him verbally to all his teeth. Follow up with a ‘final polish’ of your own, as dentists recommend that parents brush their children’s teeth until they’re 12.
It also helps if he can imitate you. So try brushing your teeth while he has a go at his.

In the bedroom

Tidy up!

Cleaning up after himself is perhaps the biggest struggle and the greatest skill that a child can learn. Make a game of it – get him to either select toys to put away by colour or type.
But it’s important to be adamant that nothing else can happen until the toys are put away. Some children respond well to earning rewards on a star chart, so you can announce, “It’s time to earn a star!”.

Shoes on feet

When your child’s old enough to start pulling on his own shoes – 18 months or earlier – buy shoes with Velcro fasteners or pull-on straps. This makes it easier for him to get the hang of getting them on, and he can graduate to laces or buckles later.
For buckles, make a game of each step. “Put the carpet under the log and over the hill. Oh look, out pops a bunny! Now put the carpet back under the log.”
With laces, show him how to make two bunny ears, then a cross and tuck the one loop under the other, through the ‘hole’.
Tying knots is important for dexterity, so get a threading game and practice with that, rather than on an unwieldy foot if your child is struggling.

Getting dressed

From an early age, get your child to sit or stand up and take an active role in getting dressed, rather than lying back on the changing table.
A good way to start is with t-shirts. Help him to get the shirt over his head; then leave him to figure out how to get their arms through the holes. Always do half the job – one sleeve of a jacket; pants pulled halfway up – and get him to complete it. Then get him to graduate to finding the sleeve or the pants’ leg himself.
Buy clothes that are easy to pull on or off, rather than ones with zips and buttons – although these are important skills for him to develop in time. Get him to practice these on a weekend morning when you’re not in a rush to leave the house.

Prep for school

Generally, on harried mornings, it can be difficult to allow your child the time to manage on his own. Try to get to school a little earlier to allow him to make his own way up the driveway, rather than carrying him. Stop to look at all the things he wants to examine.
Help him to carry his own school bag and reward him for his efforts with lots of praise. When he gets into the classroom, ask him to show you where his bag belongs and watch his put it there. He’ll get lots of satisfaction out of managing all this on his own. Always be interested and admiring of his achievements.

Living And Loving Staff

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