Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to teach your kids to be independent ;)

Does anyone out there feel like kids nowadays seem to get coddled and protected a whole lot more than we used to? I know I am guilty of this behaviour too, for example, I refuse to let my kids go "out" on the road in front of home - I have no trust in their road sense, and especially no trust in the driving sense of those on the road (Ok that's a whole new post, in fact I wrote one a while back about road rules)!!

In wondering about what all we can do to make our kids more confident and independent, I realized I'm already doing a little bit, here goes:
  1. D has been having her own bath since she was less than 5 years old. Started out not so efficient of course, but in a few months she started doing a very good job of it! My present task at 7 years, is to see if that shampoo wash can also be shifted off my shoulders ;).
  2. S insisted on having his bath nearly from the time he was 4, thanks to seeing his older sis do it. I protested initially, but then decided to try it out. So this means that some patches don't get washed on a daily basis, and I also get a call of "Amma! Has the soap gone from my back?" everyday, but I can live with that.
  3. I refuse to "do" any of my kid's homework, definitely not writing anything for them and even to the extent of not telling them any answers that they can work out for themselves. The occasional distress call for Hindi homework by D has to be answered though I try to push it to the limit by making her come up with as many words as possible before helping out.
  4. In the hope of teaching them to clean up, I will remind them 10 times(10th at the top of my voice of course!) but not put away their stuff myself. Of course hubby says I don't set a very good example as I don't put away even my own stuff, but that's a whole different story ;).
  5. D & S both started wearing their own clothes as early as they were able to, and now D's clothes are at her level so she can choose them herself. The part about not pulling out the one at the bottom of the pile to lead to an avalanche, she is yet to learn :). And I learnt how difficult it was to try to teach kids to wear underwear that doesn't have a design on the front of it - S holds it up and checks with me every time I give him one of these - "Is this correct?" - before putting it on.
  6. The eating category is a bit more of a challenge, with D starting to eat on her own around 4 years - she used to spend hours at it, but now she's quite a pro! S is definitely leading us more of a dance, with his response to "Let's see who finishes first!" being "I can't eat SO fast!" and opting out of the competition in the first place ;).
Hehehe.. so you see the trend - more independent kids -> More "ME" time ;). Any more "how to make them independent" ideas out there, do leave a comment and let me know!

21 comments:

  1. Did the montessori contribute to independence? I've generally found it to be very good in that aspect among others.
    The bath is a challenge for me - ads did it very briefy by himself but now refuses to. I think for me the eating part is where yukta has been super-independent and her older brother took the lead from her!
    They have full charge of cleaning up their room. I never do it. They know it has to be cleaned up before they go to bed. Other than that, they have to put away their school bags, shoes, uniform and lunch boxes as soon as they get home. I don't do that either. Lately they have been setting the table for dinner as well.
    Yeah please don't send them off to the road by themselves - they are too many crazies on the road!!

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    1. Yes, the montessori makes a difference too I think Aparna, but I also had the example of some older nieces else I would not have had a clue when they are old enough for what :).

      There are always ups and downs.. just when you are getting complacent they will come to you for tying shoelaces ;).

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  3. This has been my theme with our daughter, but DW isn't so enthusiastic (or mostly worried). In fact, we tried the baby-lead-weaning and avoided most pureed food and baby food. However, DW was always worried if she was eating right, so it didn't really go well. Now school is getting in the way of letting her do things by herself - in the hurry to get her out, mama does most of the things for her. And IMO, they shouldn't be giving any homework for small kids - it is more like a punishment(write 1-50 10x!) BTW, take a look at RIE parenting philosophy(this is a good resource - http://www.janetlansbury.com/), it is a philosophy of child rearing where you start making the children independent(as much as possible)from day one! We were a bit late discovering this. Another interesting book to read on this is "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn, which is a bit unorthodox.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations Jayadeep, I am definitely going to check them out, some days it feels like I need all the parenting help I can get ;).

      Agree about the homework bit, but even the Montessori schools have started getting conventional in that way as they are held accountable for preparing the kids for the "big" schools I guess. My 4 year old gets it only twice a week, but even then it's quite a task. My daughter though is really good with hers with very little checking from me, so I'm holding my breath until that day comes for my younger guy too.

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  4. R seems to have an independent streak. In fact he'd be annoyed if I did his work like putting on his pants for him but of late he's happy to let me do it..looks like I need to draw my hands back and encourage him to do it. At school of course they have to do their own work.
    I'm marking this post for my reference..will be crossing this bridge very soon :-)

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    1. Yeah Uma, I believe if we keep giving them the easy way out then we'll only end up doing more work ;). My mom finds it amazing that I let even D bathe on her own, she doesn't know how often S does too or she'll freak out!

      Just like you say, they pass through that "I want to be independent" stage, we should capitalize at that point ;).

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  5. Anonymous7:32 PM

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    1. Ok this was just the most creative spam message I ever saw, so I had to publish it ;) !!

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  6. Hey just wrote a new post inspired by yours, and have acknowledged the same :)

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    1. Read it read it.. like I said I should really start asking D to read your posts on Ads :). Do you know how many times I have to scream myself hoarse just to get her out of her clothes and to the lunch table? Humph!

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  7. Disha9:46 AM

    Hey, Awesome blog :)
    I totally agree with your style of upbringing. They have to do their HW themselves.
    SCHOOL TIME :I had a gr8 idea for Keya and Krsnali..worked like a charm. All this is with the support of the teacher -
    Day 1- As a job I ask her to do her HW, and if she ignores- I ignore it too.Promptly the teacher will ask her "why havnt You done ur HW" K's Reply " Mom did not remind me" Teacher: "its not mom's HW its yours." - No comments after that ( lets K think !!)
    Day 2 - Me :"K Pls do your HW" K ignores it again. The repetition of the same sequence at school.Just that the teacher reinds her that she hasnt done her HW for 2 days
    Day 3 - Me " K, I am working, Can u finish your HW, Lets do it together.(She feels she is not being punished or doing her HW alone).Lookin at her book i say "OMG, so many pages , not completed. What happened? Since I have lotsa Office wrk to complete, if you wat you can by then finish ur HW and surprise me". And if you do it neatly U will get a Star, for each page completed. HW done. Teacher looks at the book and says" Awesome K, lemme give u a star too" Star from the parent and the teacher. K is very happy, Gets to flaunt the stars on her hand.



    Touch wood - As yet no relapse of not dng HW. If she shows signs of not doing,I dont force her.. she cantalk to the teacher herself.. its her HW not mine :) :)

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    1. Thanks for dropping in Disha :).

      I am having a similar experience with my son now - thanks to the montessori system, and his teacher/school being very open there is no issue as such if he doesn't do his homework - he can just complete it at school.

      I try not to let that happen too often, but once in a while if he fusses or forgets I also just let him be just like you mentioned :).

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  8. Disha9:58 AM

    About them cleaning up the Room.

    I ask them " Would you like to clean the room now or in 10 mins?' Most of the time, they want to assert their decision..so they say after 10 mins. I tell them to keep an alarm.

    If after 10 mins they still dont do it. Then we speak about it- I gave you the liberty of choosing the time to do your work. You still havnt completed. Next time I will not ask you. I will not give you the 10 mins grace period. You will do as I say, because looks like you are still a baby. Obviously they are feeling guilty by then. I then say I will count upto 20 and they have to clean it up before it reaches 20, to show me that they are old kids and not babies.
    I try to portray that they have the freedom to choose but when they choose they have to keep their word. No tussle, no loud voice
    NOTE : Whenever you talk to a child pls sit down, let her sit on ur lap, hug her and then make the rules clear. Or sit down , make eye contact and talk - The child should feel that mom is approachable and any decision thats taken is ours as a family. Mom is not a hitler, or this isnt dictatorship. :) Hope this works :)

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    1. Thanks for your detailed replies Disha, completely agree with all you said :).

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  9. No 4; very contentious at home. It is a call between waiting for them to clean up v/s having them sleep on time v/s letting the younger one be herself v/s having a tidy home

    The other aspect of helping them be independent is to let them make choices and see the effects of the choices they make

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    1. Doesn't have to be at the end of the day Ash, could be just spending 5 minutes at some other particular time of day, maybe before dinner and post dinner no toys come out - just for an example, obviously may not work in all houses the same way :).

      We have some open baskets and the rest in the cupboard, any cars (don't they always) that come out post dinner can be tossed into the open containers so that works well.

      The first time I realized that Montessori stresses so much on taking things out one at a time, and putting them back when done, I needed no further excuse for asking the kids why they did it in school and not at home ;).

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  10. Interesting read aparna :) gives me an idea about my not so distant future issues - home work esp....
    These days im struggling with the concept the other way round - my daughter wants to do everything by herself and keeps on saying "im big now mumma" :) and makes it really difficult for me to explain what all she can and cannot do....

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    1. The homework thing can be kid-specific Nanda, I feel like i had an easier time with my daughter except the very first few weeks, than with my son now ;). Wouldn't say it's boy vs girl, but you can never say.

      Yes I remember that stage, when everything from wearing their own clothes to flushing the toilet is a charming thing to do and they want to do it themselves! Soon they get bored of it all and want to switch back to you doing it for them, so don't worry about it and enjoy :).

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    2. And I forgot to mention, thanks so much for dropping in and commenting too :).

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  11. I came across this post today!! And was nodding at every point. We are going through a lot of these and some are a struggle and some easy breezy. Will use this post and the comments as a ready reckoner :)

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