Helping Your Kids Help Themselves

Andrea FortenberryFamilyLeave a Comment

As a mom, I often have a tendency to do a lot for my kids, now ten and seven. It’s often easier and quicker when I just do the job instead of having them participate. In the mornings, I wake them up on time. I sometimes pick out my son’s clothes if he’s being pokey. I pack the lunches, snacks, and water bottles. I make the rounds, reminding them to brush their teeth, grab their homework, and put their shoes on.

Recently, though, I have thought more about how important it is for kids to accept responsibility for themselves as they mature. If we do everything for them, how are they going to function when they go out into the world and we aren’t there? When I went to college, I knew several students who didn’t know how to do their laundry, balance their checkbook or cook a simple meal. They struggled because their parents didn’t teach them the skills they needed to survive on their own.

Doing everything for our kids is doing them a disservice. Instead, let’s equip our kids with important life skills and help them become responsible productive people. In the short term, it will be a sacrifice of our time to slow down and teach them or let them do things on their own. But in the long term, it will pay great dividends.   

As my children went back to school this week, I reevaluated our morning routine and am taking a step back to let them step up. They’re now in charge of preparing their own snacks and water bottles. (Eventually I’m going to pass the lunches off to them too. Thought I’d start slowly.)

While they’re eating breakfast, I’m spending time to get myself ready instead of following them around like a drill sergeant, telling then what to do next. So far, it’s worked out well for all of us. They are stepping up and it’s been fun to watch.

As the new year begins, take some time to evaluate your daily routines. Think about what you’re currently doing that your kids can be responsible for. Could they help with any of the following?

  • Picking out clothes
  • Laundry
  • Lunch and snack prep
  • Cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Taking care of pets
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher

As parents, sometimes we long for our kids to need us, but it’s important that we learn to let go of doing it all. As they grow, increased responsibility is an important part of the maturity process. When they go off to college, we’ll feel better knowing they can wash their own clothes and at least make Ramen noodles. Let’s start teaching them.

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