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Watching our children grow is bittersweet. One on hand, they’re your babies and you love how little and needy they are. On the other hand, they’re getting pretty heavy to carry around and it can be tiring doing everything for them. As they get older, giving them some freedom may give you some, too.
Having them do some easy chores can be a good and fun thing. It’s important to use different ways to encourage autonomy in children to help their brains and fine and gross motor skills develop. Similarly, being given responsibility and being allowed to play through certain situations helps children develop problem-solving skills and learn deductive reasoning.
Adopt a Dog
If your family is ready, adding a canine family member may be a great way to allow your child or children to practice autonomy. Dogs need to be fed, let out, walked, and given food and water regularly. Similar to how children are on schedules, dogs should be too. If your family keeps a calendar of routines, add some of the dog chores to your child’s agenda. They’re more than capable of filling the dog’s food bowl using a measuring cup.
As you start to let your children help with dog chores, or even let them do some tasks for themselves, embrace the messes. Developing skills to handle things large and small takes time, mistakes, and time to correct. Resist the urge to get frustrated. Accidents are a part of the learning process. Let your child clean them as they happen. You can provide the finishing touches.
Dole Out Tasks
Let the kids help with other tasks. They can help carry in and put away non-fragile items. Let them fold their laundry, even if it isn’t perfect. All skills need to be developed. Remember that everyone starts somewhere.
A big part of allowing a child to feel a sense of autonomy is providing them with choices. This doesn’t mean you let them run amuck, though. As they grow, feeling like they can make decisions is important. Their choices can be between two things you want them to do, but how you word the choice is crucial. For example, “Do you want to take a bath before or after you brush your teeth?” This still gets the same tasks accomplished, but on the child’s terms.
There are many ways to encourage autonomy in children. Start small and see how it goes. It’s hard to know that your kiddos need you less and less, but luckily life throws enough at us to keep us busy most of the time. You’ll be proud to watch your children become more independent and helpful.