Sometime around the age of five, your child will begin to show signs they are…
From birth to adulthood, learning is essential. We’re all constantly learning, but children even more so. In order to live well fulfilled and productive lives, learning is essential. With smaller children, you’ll do a lot of their learning with them; teaching by doing. This involves things such as brushing their teeth, tying their shoes or getting them dressed in the morning. Essentially, as parents, we do this not only to teach our children, but also because it probably seems a lot simpler than leaving to the child to do. However, there comes a time when it becomes much more beneficial to allow them to learn and do these things independently. They might make mistakes; they might take hours to do a simple task, but they are learning, and it is all part of the process.
There are many benefits to independent learning, but overall it all comes down to helping to mould an independent child who can, later in life, look after themselves. As with anything, if someone constantly does something for you; you won’t learn to do it yourself and may never have the desire to do so. By letting your child tie their own shoes they will eventually learn how to do it, and how to do it quicker each time; eventually, you won’t have to worry at all that they need help tying their shoes as they have no troubles doing so. This not only saves you a job, but they now know a valuable life skill, and this goes for everything from getting dressed and brushing their teeth to tidying their room and studying or later in life doing their own washing or cooking. It is all part of their growth.
Inform your child that they are going to be doing some things on their own and remind them that this added responsibility is a reward for them growing up. Make it seem like a positive experience and something they deserve as they’re getting bigger. Children like to feel important, so treating this like a reward will help them feel more inclined to get on board. Use positive language rather than telling them they’re not little, tell them they are bigger; it can all be in the language used sometimes.
Make sure they have the tools to complete the tasks themselves. For example, if you ask them to tidy their room make sure they have enough storage for their belongings and that they are accessible to them. Similarly, if you want them to dress themselves make sure they can easily access the wardrobe and their clothes; otherwise you’ll be fighting a losing battle.
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to independent learning, start by making a list of things which your child could be doing themselves; such as folding their washing or brushing their teeth. You can also prioritise these or order by age to make it simpler. Ask your child for their input if they don’t seem keen at first, it will help if they feel included.
It’s important to allow the extra time for these tasks, as undoubtedly, they will take a little longer as they get the hang of things. A common outcome is that as a parent you may be running low on time and therefore do the task for them to save time; but this can be counterproductive.
If your child becomes resistant to doing tasks themselves, compromise with them and offer them something in return. If it something like tidying their room, suggest you help them out; you’ll tidy half each. This is better than them avoiding something all together and teaches them lessons about compromise.
It is guaranteed that your child won’t be perfect at everything the first time but it is important to praise them nonetheless as punishment won’t encourage them. For example if they get dressed themselves but don’t put everything on the right way, don’t tell them what they’ve done wrong but instead focus on what they’ve done well.
Introducing independent learning can seem time consuming, however the earlier you start the easier you’ll find it as your children get older. As they start exams and become teenagers, they’ll be comfortable with their independence and will be willing to take responsibility for their actions.