Do you feel like you have to watch your child to make sure they do what they need to, step by step? If you are not there to tell them to do their homework, take a bath, clean up their toys, etc., can they do it on their own? It can be exhausting to follow behind your child and constantly remind them to do what they should be able to handle on their own. But it is also stressful to trust your child to handle things on their own. Thankfully, we can build up their ability to do things independently! Where do you start? I am here to help you encourage your child to be a self-starter.
Start with modeling.
Most children do not thrive with large tasks or abstract concepts (most adults do not either, for that matter). Show them how to break a big idea into measurable, digestible pieces. Do you want your child to clean their room? Start with step-by-step instructions. If you start with saying, “Clean your room,” that is a big task with endless possibilities regarding where to start. Help them break it down step by step. With little ones or children who need more support, give specific guidance like, “Let's put these blocks in this basket.” When they have mastered that, move on to asking guided questions when they get stuck or confused, like, “What should you put away next?” This helps your child understand that every goal they have can be broken down into manageable steps.
Let your child make mistakes.
It’s like my role model Ms. Frizzle says: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” If your child does not fail often, how will they build resiliency against failure? As parents, it’s instinct to protect kids from everything that could make them sad or cause them harm. But the truth is, that is saving them from pain now but compounding it for later. It’s healthy for kids to lose at games sometimes or struggle a little to figure out a math problem. Of course you can help them out when they need you, but do let them try and mess up sometimes. You can be there to comfort and help them, but give them the space to try something, mess up, and try a new tactic. Otherwise, when they encounter hardships without you, how will they know what to do?
Help them learn to take on an appropriate amount of responsibility.
A big part of having the maturity to be self-sufficient is knowing your limits. If you want your kiddo to know how to get things done on their own, part of that is knowing what they can do alone and managing their time. Those skills can take years to hone. As an adult, I am still learning how much I can handle and when to ask for a hand. So why not start teaching them young? If you have a child who is younger or needs more direct help, regularly discuss time limits and windows with them. For example, reminding them, “You have thirty minutes until bedtime. That is not enough time to get out your LEGOS, but it is enough time to read a book,” can help them be cognizant of time management. If they are in school, set up a routine to help them remember to do their homework without prompting. If they have work they do not understand or assignments they need your help with, have them work on their other assignments first, then go over those pieces with you. This can help them learn to manage their time and tasks more independently.
And of course, always praise the things you want to see them keep doing.
If you want them to try more on their own, congratulate them for trying that tricky math equation alone first before asking for help. If you want them to finish tasks in a timely manner, praise them when they do! Even if it’s a small victory, complimenting that little step will encourage them to do it again.
Want to learn more about helping your student be successful? Contact A-List today.