to ask how to help DC to learn independence?

(35 Posts)
tryhard Wed 10-Aug-16 08:47:10

as I feel clueless...

My DF did everything for me & my DB & I know now as an adult that it a. makes you lazy & b. completely undermines your confidence in your own ability to do often very simply things if someone either doesn't let you do it in the first place or steps in to do it 'right'. No criticism of DF, it came from a good place!

Sooooo....my DC are 5 & 2.5 & I've realised with my eldest that I'm slipping into doing things for him that he can do himself, so he can get his own cereal & make his own toast but I tend to do it for him, particularly on school mornings. He dresses himself but I tend to set his uniform out for him in the morning as he cant reach up into his wardrobe yet without climbing in it. I've also started getting him to earn money by helping me for the day with jobs like changing sheets, making the bed, dusting, sorting & hanging out the washing etc. Does this sound about right for a 5 year old? And what age do you start encouraging greater independence? with my toddler I'd just be grateful if he went on the potty independently!!

NoIsAnAnswer Wed 10-Aug-16 08:54:57

5 year old making toasthmmand as for changing sheets!

No. My five year old puts his dishes in the dishwasher, his dirty clothes in the wash basket, helps himself to fruit/yogurt/biscuits. He'll help me do a job if he's bored or wants to, like hanging out the washing, change the bed sheets, dust etc but I wouldn't ask him to do these things as a 'chore'.

My nine year old hoovers and keeps his room tidy. Empties the dishwasher. Strips the beds if asked.

They're kids. Let them be kids

Gowgirl Wed 10-Aug-16 08:55:42

Even a 2 yr old can put their dirty washing in a basket before their bath and pick up their toys, you just start early and teach as they go along, my 9 yo is perfectly capable of making a simple meal, and clearing up afterwards, he can if told work the washing machine he also arranges meeting friends on the playstation, walks there and comes home at a stipulated time. But he has always been expected to take care of himself and his belongings. My 3.5 yo is getting there and will make his bed, get himself dressed and clear the table. BUT it does depend on the child...

Clutteredmess Wed 10-Aug-16 08:58:51

That all sounds good - I would start adding in some simple cooking and making sandwiches. Also asking for and pay for items in a shop - having to find the right money from a pile of coins rather than just handing over a £1 coin (make sure you go when it's quiet), also let him choose something that he doesn't have enough money for is quite an important life skill IMO and then working out a solution - put it back and save more money til he has enough etc.

NoCapes Wed 10-Aug-16 08:59:16

At these ages you need to teach them self care and taking responsibility for their own stuff
Not changing sheets!
And I think 5 is too young to be making toast independently too

So tidy up toys at the end of the day, clothes in the wash basket, dishes in the dishwasher, that kind of thing
If you want to do extras id go with setting the table or watering the plants

You're expecting a lot of s 5 year old IMO

OhNoNotMyBaby Wed 10-Aug-16 08:59:45

OMG. At 5 you're making him earn money by doing household tasks?! shock. Not in my house. And of course you should be making his toast and helping him with his clothes.

Leave him be for goodness sake. Independence comes when they ask if they can do something - that's when they're ready.

davos Wed 10-Aug-16 09:00:31

My 12 year old gets pocket money for doing jobs. Like cleaning the bathroom etc. Stuff above what I would expect.

My five year old helps me but I don't give him money. Didn't with the oldest until a year ago. Though I would get him a treat occasionally.

Both can be a bit lazy and ask me for help when then can do stuff themseleves.

I promote independence by letting them do stuff I think they can do and encouraging them to try doing stuff they can't.

If the kids ask for help, I usually watch them and encourage them to figure it out themselves first. Ask them 'what do you think you should do' and then help if they can't figure it out.

I am an early riser, naturally, so get all the cereals out etc on school mornings. Get them up and then they help themselves.

My Dd (the older) is short and can't reach her wardrobe rail (fitted wardrobes) so still get her uniform out grin

With Dd the main thing at the moment is trying to get her to organise her friends. She had a sleep over and wanted me to call the parents. I thought at her age she should be able to organise it, so I assisted her making invitations with my number on so parents could confirm. And got her to arrange meeting her friends at school so I could collect their stuff and take it home with me.

She recently arranged a cinema trip, looked up bus schedules, cinema times and arrangements with her friends. So she is improving.

I don't think there is one answer to this. All kids are different.

But I do agree with you. Mum encouraged me to be independent, but did everything for my brother. It's negatively impacted him. He was still going home for his dinner until he was 35 and had never done his own washing until then either. He struggles to think for himself a lot and needs a lot of support now.

Jayne266 Wed 10-Aug-16 09:05:42

My ds is 4 and is expected to tidy up a toy when he's finished with it, put his dirty clothes in the washing basket and help set up the table for tea. I am lucky at the moment he loves tidying up (I know this will change at some point). He helps me prepare food and do some tidying around the house, but I let him decide on this as I don't want him to think I am forcing him to do it.

Gowgirl Wed 10-Aug-16 09:07:29

Ds 9 only just gets pocket money and it is dependant on his room being tidy and his attitude at home, he is going to get a much longer for phone this summer as he really has been a star, especially letting the 3yo join in when he has friends round half hour in his brothers room with the 'big boys' can make or break ds2's day.

LucyFuckingPevensie Wed 10-Aug-16 09:11:49

My (now ) 6 year old twins make their beds and have for a year or so. I am not talking about stripping and putting on fresh bedding but arranging the duvet neatly hmm and picking their cuddly toys up and putting them back on their bed. They also take the recycling out and set the table before dinner. Those are the only jobs I expect them to do ( apart from the occasional washing up or loading of dish washer , and obviously putting their clothes in the washing basket) it doesn't take too long and isn't too tricky for them to do.

Clutteredmess Wed 10-Aug-16 09:12:28

I'm saddened but a couple of these responses - I've taught reception for many years and see children who are limited by their parents overwhelming need to do everything for them. A typical 5 year old is quite capable of making sandwiches under supervision, changing sheets with support. Most get satisfaction from increasing independence and their confidence soars. A parent's job IMO is to provide support but to keep stepping back over the years so that your child leaves home as a fully functioning adult capable of looking after themselves and making independent decisions.

tryhard Wed 10-Aug-16 09:15:35

Just to clarify, he doesn't change sheets alone! What I mean is when I'm changing the beds, I encourage him to help me pull the sheets tight, do the poppers on duvet cover etc, most of the time he spends rolling around on the duvet as I change it, which is fine. The reason I encourage him to be aware of xhagbig the sheets is I remember going to a friends house when I was about 10 & was amazed when she changed her own bed, knew where the fresh sheets were kept etc, before that it had simply never occurred to me how and who changed my sheets, it was a process I just wasn't aware of, like the cleaning fairy did it or something!

Why is toast unreasonable? He loves doing it & is really proud when he can he make it for his little brother too.

It's getting the balance isn't it, and that's what I'm asking about, my DF got totally wrong, again, done in kindness, he had a very hard childhood & didn't want us to struggle in anyway, but it didn't do me any favours in the long run.

LucyFuckingPevensie Wed 10-Aug-16 09:40:22

I don't see a problem with toast either, my 2 do that too actually. Not all the time, but they do enjoy doing it and making sandwiches.
I am looking forward to the day that they can make me a cup of tea / coffee.

davos Wed 10-Aug-16 10:10:32

There's nothing wrong with kids helping change their beds, putting washing in etc.

You couldn't put a load in without my Ds insisting on helping and I wasn't going to discourage it.

Last Christmas Eve I was cleaning the house as we were hosting Christmas Day. Kids wanted to help and cleaned all the skirting boards. They even fell out over who got to do the most. I laughed. But it meant a job got done that I didn't have to do. And they were happy. Win win.

The toast thing isn't wrong either. My Dd who is accident prone and scared of using the kettle would have been a nightmare to let make toast.

DS (5) probably could if he ever ate toast.

Kids are all different.

redskytonight Wed 10-Aug-16 10:16:35

If he can't reach his wardrobe, I'd move his school clothes to a lower drawer where he can get to them. I'd personally focus on things that he is doing for himself.

so e.g. at the end of the day he has to tidy away any toys he's been playing with. AT dinner he has to take his own plate/bowl etc out to the kitchen and put in the dishwasher/by side of sink. He puts his own dirty clothes in the washing basket. He packs his own school bag for the day (you may wish to check at first!) and unpacks when he gets home. And yes to making his own breakfast and helping with general household tasks.

Personally I'm not a fan of earning money for doing "normal" everyday household tasks - they are things that have to be done because he's a person that he lives in the house, they aren't optional!

tryhard Wed 10-Aug-16 10:59:59

Doh! Why didn't I think of moving the uniform?! Will do 😊 Hmmmmm yes I wasn't sure about earning money for doing jobs at home that need doing, jury is still out on that one. I do feel strongly about independence - I'm a lecturer & am amazed every year at the 18 who are so ill-prepared for living alone, managing their own time, just taking responsibility for themselves. They suffer later on as they're having to learn basic life skills late on, as I did.

Natsku Wed 10-Aug-16 11:29:25

Sounds good to me. Nothing wrong with him making his own toast either, my 5 year old makes hers from time to time (although sometimes when I tell her she needs to make it herself she decides she wants 'cold toast' which is frozen bread with butter on grin )

I really need to get my 5 year old to do more things herself too as she has become so lazy about getting dressed she wants me to do it, and its a fight to get her to tidy her room every time it gets into a mess.

corythatwas Wed 10-Aug-16 11:36:27

I don't think involving a 5yo in things that you do is in any way going to get in the way of "letting kids be kids". My Swedish nieces and nephews were well up to mixing a cake or making biscuits by that age, and one of them was beginning to learn how to cook. They were also allowed to handle tools from a young age and encouraged (not forced) to lend a hand with DIY insofar as their age allowed.

The trick is doing it exactly the way you seem to be doing it, OP, as a fun game and as something that makes them feel involved and grown up. And that works much better if you start young, when they can still see it as a game rather than a chore. Most likely the day will come when they do see it as a chore, but by that time they will hopefully be proficient enough for it to be a relatively painless chore.

Not so sure about the earning money bit. That could result in no chores being done the day you can't pay them or when they don't think the money is good enough. Treating it as a social thing seems safer.

Gowgirl Wed 10-Aug-16 11:37:57

Lucy - ds 1 makes a cracking pot of tea, its a glorious timegrin

redskytonight Wed 10-Aug-16 11:40:11

As an aside, my DS moved up to secondary school last year and I was absolutely amazed at the number of children in his year (11 year olds) who had never

- packed/unpacked their own school bags
- made their own breakfast
- made their own packed lunch
- picked their own uniform out the cupboard (always laid out by parent)

... and their parents were bemoaning how hard the transition to secondary school would be.

I know 5 is a long way off 11, but you have to start somewhere

LucyFuckingPevensie Wed 10-Aug-16 11:52:44

Gowgirl, both my Dts are very clumsy so I think it might be a while off yet. They do get me drinks of water though, which is lovely. Even if they do leave a little trail of water on the floor.

Rainbowqueeen Wed 10-Aug-16 12:01:14

Maybe write a list of things you would like them to be able to do by the time they leave home and break them down into more manageable steps?

My kids are responsible for their own rooms and do a range of household chores, some regularly and others less often.

Cooking together is fun and teaches new skills.

Teaching them to be responsible for packing and putting away their own belongings is a big one imho

Getting them to order their own meal when out is a good way of practicing speaking to other adults and using manners.

Artandco Wed 10-Aug-16 12:02:05

I think the key is independence but not leaving them too it

So at 5 years yes they can make a basic breakfast, but doesn't mean they should every day. It's nice to do stuff for them also. Do a combination of letting them do it one day midweek whilst you make drinks and they pour cereal for example, and at weekend at least once let them help learn how to do eggs/ pancakes etc but more you do and watch and learn

Happylandpirate Wed 10-Aug-16 12:08:41

My SIL really knows independence... She finally allows her son to cut up his own meat... He's 20!!! Yup up until about 1-2 years ago she cut up his meat, took him up to buffets and told him what food he liked and even ordered off the menu for him if we were eating out!! My DH calls him the Princess because he literally does nothing around the house and doesn't contribute to the household despite eating more food than the rest of the family put together and earns more money than my SIL!!! His 17 year old sister is completely different... My SIL wants to keep babying her but my niece won't allow it... Full of independence and she's taught herself how to be!!!

Gowgirl Wed 10-Aug-16 12:39:50

Happy pirate is your sil my ds, its a running joke in our family that she will still be ferrying them to and from uni!

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