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Parenting

Am I enabling my child to be non independent

83 replies

ghostspider · 25/01/2023 12:14

So for a bit of back story, i have one sibling and we grew up in a home with my parents who are married. My dad is easy going and my mum is quite a stressy person/worries about everything. Growing up I was the oldest and had a lovely childhood as far as childhoods go. Me and my mum clashed a lot as I grew into my teens, and I was very lazy. I was a good kid who went to school and I was tidy etc but lazy.

My brother on the other hand was and still is horrendously lazy, neither of us were taught how to cook/clean but as I got older I learned the basics and once I had my children can cook and clean just fine. My brother cannot cook anything and doesn't clean ever, he still lives at home at 25 which is relatively young so no problem there. He doesn't wash a dish and I feel for my parents. He is insanely selfish, very sure of himself but has numerous mental health problems.. anxiety/depression which seems to have been helped with medication.

My mother is a fixer, she does everything for my brother and still tried to for me. It's quite over bearing but I am 30 now with 3 children and know how to handle her. My husband says that I am quite like my mum as in I do everything for our children and he says it's not going to help them later in life. I can see his point, she mothers my brother no end and he struggles with everyday tasks. My oldest is 7 and my youngest is newborn so I guess it's my oldest my husband is more worried about.

My question is, (if you've read this far thank you!), how much do you do for your children at that age or what do you teach your children to do for themselves? I don't think I'm doing too much.. my eldest dresses himself for school and can make a drink/cereal for himself.

I had a moment the other day when I gave him a cloth and asked him to give his school shoes a wipe over as I was tending to the baby and we didn't have much time, he looked at me and said "why can't you do it?" I didn't really know what to say other than, because I have to do something else. Now im stuck between am I doing enough or not enough! My partner's upbringing was the complete opposite of mine and he had to do everything for himself from a very young age. He thinks it's helped him as an adult.

Sorry for the long post, it's hard to know as a parent what the best thing to do is sometimes

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AnnaTortoiseshell · 25/01/2023 12:22

I don’t have a 7yo so I’m not sure what’s normal for that age, but I would expect a child that age to be able/willing to wipe their own shoes. I’m replying to you as the bit about wiping shoes jumped out at me because if my 2yo makes a mess I (gently) make her clear it up and she knows to get a cloth if there’s a spill or similar. She often cleans up without being asked if she drips milk from her cereal for example. Obviously some things I need to do but I’m trying to teach her to be responsible for her own mess. So for example she puts her own rubbish in the bin, again often without being asked as it’s just normal. Gets her clothes on with help, helps me cook using toddler knives and that kind of thing. Everything within the realms of what she’s physically and intellectually capable of, and all with kindness and warmth and love, but if she can do it herself (and we’ve got time) then that’s my preference. As she gets bigger I’ll be teaching her to bring her plate from the table and make her own bed etc.

My parents also let me be lazy as a child/teen and I think it was bad for me in terms of life skills and also my mental health (idle hands etc.).

But nothing you’ve said sounds like you’re doing anything ‘wrong’.

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Spendonsend · 25/01/2023 12:30

7 year old are pretty competent at school. Obviously some have SEN or just find some things difficult and need a bit more help which is fine too.

I tend to say 'because we are a team' or 'im not a house elf' if i get asked why.

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ghostspider · 25/01/2023 12:31

@AnnaTortoiseshell thank you! That's exactly my point. What you are doing sounds brilliant. I feel like as an adult I've never been a go getter. My husband will try anything, he's not scared of much whereas I worry about a lot. And now I'm wondering whether I will pass this on to my children.

I've started the routine of getting my ds to make his bed. I can tell he thinks I'm unreasonable for it and moans, or does the quickest worst job just to say he's done it!

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Squiblet · 25/01/2023 12:31

Seven is very young! I think it would be counterproductive to expect too much of your DS at that age.

Maybe a helpful approach would be, "we're a team" .... so, if he's able to help you by doing something useful while you're occupied with the baby, then that's good teamwork. You're asking him to step up when you need him to, and alternately, when he needs help, he should feel he can ask you for it - because you're on his team. "We're all in it together."

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AnnaTortoiseshell · 25/01/2023 12:34

I love ‘because we’re a team’ - gonna bank that one.

I think it’s helpful when they know they don’t get to move on to the fun thing until the job is done. You might have more of an uphill battle with a seven year old but he’s so young still, there’s plenty of time for him to learn!

I also wonder if ‘fear of getting it wrong’ is different from being ‘lazy’ (as you put it) as a teen?

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MassiveSalad22 · 25/01/2023 12:35

I’ve thought about this recently too. My kids are 7, 5 and 10 months. The older 2 work together to hoover on a Sunday (teamwork). Oldest can get himself food and snacks which can actually be annoying at times. Obviously gets dressed, doesn’t need help in bath, does need to be told to brush teeth though 🙄

The way I look at it, 7 is still tiny and you’re a long time grown. I’m here to help. Obviously they need to learn to do things for themselves and be a good housemate etc but they will.

Conversely I often worry my baby is left to her own devices TOO much.

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MassiveSalad22 · 25/01/2023 12:37

Also, assuming your 7 year old is doing everything they should at school, home is for chilling and playing and relaxing. As it should be for grown ups too but obviously a struggle point for lots of grown ups!

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Howeverdoyouneedme · 25/01/2023 12:39

I think of it in the same way as potty training or teaching to wash hands. You start young and be consistent, you expect a less than perfect job initially then over time it becomes a habit. My parents didn't really let us do anything, I think in part because they saw it as easier to do it for us.

Of course a 7 year can wipe his shoes. In reply I'd say 'We're a team and we help each other. You will look after your things so they last.'

My 7 and 9 year old wipe shoes, stack the dishwasher (and empty). They help me hang washing and put away their clean clothes. They also chop vegetables and the 9 year old makes tea and toast and with supervision, cooks pasta.

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OwwwMuuuum · 25/01/2023 12:42

Love “we’re a team” and will use it.

Ive definitely been guilty of doing too much for my DCs, particularly when rushed, as I seem to be most of the time.

I’ve tried responsibility charts recently which helped.

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aSofaNearYou · 25/01/2023 12:47

I think with the shoe thing, it sounds like Ds is developing more of an attitude problem than a capability problem. It sounds like he is fairly capable but it's the expectation that people should do everything for him that I think you need to knock on the head.

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Goingforplatinum · 25/01/2023 12:48

DSC is around your eldest age, they have to make bed (not perfect, just pull their cover over) open curtains and put their washing in the laundry, however moans to mum about having to do this as mum does it all at there house. DD2 will take her own rubbish out, take her plate and cup to the kitchen and tends to clean up spills. DSC still leaves rubbish on the sofa and cups on the side. I don't think we are being unreasonable of what we expect of DSC, mum thinks we are. My mum did everything for us as children and so did DH mum. Unfortunately my mum passed, so I had to learn and quickly. DH mum still does everything for him and its been an ongoing battle to teach him to be independent. This is why we try to teach DD and DSC to do things for themselves (within reason) so they know how to do it and are used to doing it when older.

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HappyAsASandboy · 25/01/2023 12:50

I try to ask/expect them to do things for themselves from the age that they can, and talk about the things I am doing for them/family so that my work isn't "unseen".

My just eight year old does a lot for himself, with prompting sometimes;

Dresses self
Own shoes on (still learning laces, but velcro ones are good!)
Hangs bag/coat in hook and puts shoes in drawer (often needs a reminder)
Brushes own teeth, with a quick whizz round from me at the end
Puts own clothes away once I've folded them
Puts own dirty clothes in laundry bin
Clears own (and often some more) plates from table
Sets table for dinner
Restocks drinks holder with cans, puts shopping away etc
Makes own cereal (but asks me to make toast/porridge)
Fetches cloths and cleans up spills straight away (whilst also hollering for support!)

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redskydelight · 25/01/2023 12:50

We instituted "tidy the lounge before you go to bed" from the age that the DC could pick up a toy and put it in a box. By 7, this was a "just do" task.

7 is still quite young, but I think the thing is that it's a gradual succession. So many parents (e.g.) wait for their children to get to secondary school age and then expect them to instantly be more responsible. Actually, if you've been gradually building up what they do as you go along, there is no sudden jump, ever.

At 7, DH and I both worked full time, and we explained quite candidly to our children that we expected them to help out with things where they could because the house ran better if everyone pitched in. That included the aforementioned tidying, getting their own breakfast, packing their own bag, laying the table, helping prep veg for dinner, remembering to pass on letters ... (many of these with support which gradually reduced as they got older).

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YukoandHiro · 25/01/2023 12:56

Reading with interest as my 5.5 yo has both an attitude and a capability issue (struggles dressing still) so I think I do too much for her and she can be a bit lazy - 2yo more self motivated with tidying, using bin etc - but also sometimes it's hard to tell when she needs help and when she's being lazy

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AHelpfulHand · 25/01/2023 12:56

I have a 10 year old and a 5 year old.

They can….

  • independently choose appropriate clothing that matches
  • get themselves dressed
  • put washing in the correct washing basket (Whites, colours, darks)
  • can put their pots in the dishwasher.
  • 10 year old can wash and brush own teeth, i do both for the 5 year old.
  • 10 year old can make simple things like toast, sandwich, cereal.
  • 10 year old can do homework independently
  • Both can sweep up their own mess at the table


when they’re early teens thats when im going to start teaching them how to cook, iron and work the washing machine.
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RoundUpRuby · 25/01/2023 12:58

my eldest dresses himself for school and can make a drink/cereal for himself.

Well I would certainly hope so. My 2 year old can make her own breakfast and drink and mostly dress herself.

From this comment alone I think you’re doing too much.

The reply to why can’t you do it is simple: “they’re your school shoes and it’s your responsibility to keep them clean”.

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ChildminderMum · 25/01/2023 13:01

My approach is, we all live in this house and we all have to contribute to keeping it running. Expectations change depending on age and under 5 they weren't really expected to do much expect tidy their toys away.

My 5 year old can: tidy away her toys, make her bed, put her clean clothes away, lay the table, get herself cereal and drinks.

My 9 year old can: tidy up, lay and clear the table, get cereal and make sandwiches, do the washing up, feed pets, strip his bed, sort/fold/put away laundry.

My 12 year old can: tidy up, hoover, lay and clear the table, wash up, feed pets, change his bedding, hang out laundry and sort/fold/put away, make toast, cereal and cups of tea/coffee, make his own packed lunch, clean and polish his school shoes.

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SeaToSki · 25/01/2023 13:02

If you think you have a tendency to do too much for the dc, then you are right to be on the watch for it. The aim is to scaffold dc so that they can eventually take on things themselves, but you need to build them up to it.

Why dont you and your DH sit down and write a list of all the things you want your dc to be able to do independently and by what age. Then work backwards and think about when you want them to be starting to learn the skill and so then when do you want to introduce them to the skill. Then sit down with dc and explain simply. Make a chart, stick it on the fridge and tell them what the plan is and why its exciting.

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AHelpfulHand · 25/01/2023 13:02

I also refuse to carry school bags. I see many children practically throw their school bags at their parents straight out of school.

my 5 year old was abit of a pain for dressing himself until he found out that he could have some ipad time if there was enough time once he was dressed.

now he gets dressed super fast!

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ChildminderMum · 25/01/2023 13:04

With mine I always say, I do things for you and you do things for me.

If I've asked them to do a job eg wash up and they moan, I say "oh ok, are we just going to look after ourselves from now on then? I won't do any cooking or laundry for you?".
They always decide that helping each other is a better system.

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Rowen32 · 25/01/2023 13:09

Mine were doing jobs from 18 months, once they're able to do something for themselves they need to be doing it in my opinion, there's no reason why they can't be..

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ChildsNoseIsATap · 25/01/2023 13:12

I do think it's good to teach children to do things for themselves. We're not raising children to be children: we're raising them to be adults. They need assistance and direction, not automation, to learn how to function

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Divebar2021 · 25/01/2023 13:12

It’s not a competition ( which I think it might be in danger of turning into). My DD is a lazy as she’s allowed to be. Sometimes it’s easier to do something yourself rather than have the battle over it however it doesn’t do them any favours in the long run. My DD has been cooking with me and my DH and can knock up an omlette or noodles on her own. She makes her packed lunch a couple of times a week ( including chopping veggies). She can bake cookies and cupcakes without much help. Setting the table or clearing away the plates can be done from an early age although somehow she has to be prompted to put her dishes in the dishwasher. She can make tea, put her washing away, sweep the floor etc although these are not set chores as such. She has complained about tasks and said “ why do I have to do it” to which my answer is “why do I have to do it” I definitely have to keep the pressure up which is annoying but I’m determined she won’t be a kid who goes to university unable to switch a washing machine on.

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AttentionAll · 25/01/2023 13:12

It is normal for children to complain about chores. But there is lots of research to show that children who do chores tend to do better as an adult and the key thing seems to be that children are taught the family is a team that work together, rather than a more servant master relationship.
Tidying up his own mess should be a given although he will need help with some tidying. Little tasks like if you go shopping asking him to find some things on the shelves. Helping to clear or set a table for dinner. Bring down his washing to wash. Just various small tasks.
It takes longer in the beginning to get children to do chores which is why some parents just give in and do it themselves. But it does pay off.

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Divebar2021 · 25/01/2023 13:13

Forgot to say she’s 10

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