Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Encouraging Independence

Look at my diaper boy all proud brushing his teeth like a big boy! This is what I thought would be a great start to my post about Encouraging Independence.

Ever since my oldest was a baby I knew that no matter how much it made me cringe or worry I would encourage my children to be independent. From allowing their first time pouring a cup of water {or even juice} to making their own bed {even if it's less than perfect}. This is an important part of growing up. We all need to learn to be independent and do what works best for us.

For starters your child will gain interest in wanting to brush their own teeth {like diaper boy in picture above}, this is a great start to not only teaching them good hygiene but allowing them to learn to brush their teeth properly. I still take a turn after diaper boy is done brushing his teeth but I allow him to take the first turn starting with him putting his own toothpaste on his toothbrush. It's a messy, messy process involving toothpaste all over my bathroom counter and sometimes the floor, but to see his proud face I wouldn't change it for the world.

Next your child will show an interest in pouring their own drinks. I always start with water, because it's the easiest to clean up. Water can be simply wiped up with a dry cloth, versus juice that is sticky and needs to be cleaned with chemical products, well I use homeology a plant based cleaner which is safe for the children. I also bought a cute little kid pitcher with small cups from tupperware that is just kids size and allows them to practice pouring water into cups to drink.

At some point in your child's life they will start dressing themselves and picking out their own clothes. Beware your children will not understand how to match their clothing {unless you are lucky}, and how I get around this is I always pick out two matching outfits for the children to choose from. This allows for them to be independent but keeps you from watching them dress up in the wonderfully colorful mismatched sets.

The hardest part of encouraging independence is letting go, I am a mommy type of person and it's sad but happy when your child no longer needs you to get them dressed, or brush their teeth, or pour them a cup of water. I understand as a mom you don't want to let go, sometimes you wish to bottle up their childhood and keep them a baby or a toddler forever. Unfortunately we do need to let go and encourage them to soar into the world as mini-adults some day, so encouraging your child's independence will only help them navigate through the world on their own.

Wishing you success in encouraging independence....