Enjoy this guest post from Bryn Huntpalmer.
While it’s within a parent’s nature to protect their children and provide for all of their needs, there comes a time when kids need to learn to provide for themselves in small ways. In your home, that may mean they’re learning to dress themselves, or embracing the freedom to drag out art supplies without asking. When your kids begin to complete tasks without help, they feel a sense of pride and competence that leads to higher self-esteem. Here are a few organizing tricks from Modernize that will help them entertain themselves and learn problem solving skills.
Make Everything that’s Safe Accessible
Make sure to put anything that’s safe for them to use within reach so they have easy access to whatever stimulates or interests them. Use clear bins, shelves, and labels to keep organized. These will serve double-duty: if your kids know where everything is, they won’t have to run and ask you questions like “where are the markers” every five minutes, which means they can be the leader of their own activities.
If they aren’t masters of the written word quite yet, you can print pictures of items and use them as labels, or put certain categories of items in bins of a designated color. When everything has its proper place, it’s a lot easier for kids to participate in cleanup and eventually learn how to take care of it themselves.
Make Everyday Clothes Easy to Reach
Letting your preschool-aged kid pick out clothes for the a school day may be your worst nightmare, but if they have a desire to, that means they’re ready to start being independent in that area. Foster that independence, while keeping it in check. You have total control of what clothes end up in their closet, so put sensible day-to-day pieces within easy reach, and bundle outfits together as much as possible. Keep the latest Disney princess ensemble in the dress-up bin so they know it’s not an option. Use open baskets to store socks and underwear. That way, if they are ready to start making decisions and dressing themselves, they won’t jam their fingers in the drawer.
Give Your Child the Tools to Stay in Their Own Bed
One of the biggest battles of trying to inch your little one toward independence is to get him or her out of your bed and sleeping all night on their own. A night light or hall light that stays can disrupt your child’s sleep patterns, but kids of all ages are afraid of the dark. Place a push-light or flashlight near their bed so that they have more control. When they feel afraid or need to use the restroom, they can easily turn on the light. Get a large stuffed animal that will bring them comfort at night, leave their favorite picture book on the nightstand, and set up a sound machine (but make sure it’s not too loud). Keep the room cool, as a mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Make sure there are plenty of warm covers—they may start feeling too cozy to journey down a cool hallway to your room!
Hang a Chore/Responsibility Chart
Teaching your kids to be responsible is one of the most effective ways to foster independence. It can start with the smallest things, like making sure all the Legos are put away before leaving the room, or mastering a nightly routine. If you want your kids to build good habits, remind them what needs to be done while learning to be hands off. For example, if your kid is old enough to start going through the motions of getting ready without you, hang a chart or signs on the wall that reminds them what to do.
Create an Activity Area
Children’s worlds are governed by rules and regulations that they don’t understand. Even when they’re running free on a sunny day, they must stay within a certain area so they’re not in danger. When they play, they have to learn to share and clean up. These are all incredibly important lessons, but if a child feels too limited, he or she won’t be able to establish that resourceful independence. Make sure there’s an area of the room, or at least in the house, where they can do whatever activity that they want: read, paint, draw, play pretend, dress up, etc. Cover the floor with foam tiles or paint the wall with chalkboard paint and let them draw to their hearts’ content. Because while it’s undoubtedly imperative for kids to learn independence, the most important thing for them to do is to have fun.
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science teacher turned food blogger. I love God, my family, and food. You can usually find me in the kitchen preparing family friendly, homemade recipes and taking lots of pictures.
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