Does it seem like every time you turn around, your kids are constantly expecting you to do something for them that they really could do themselves? From leaving their toys and clothes on the floor to asking you to get them a drink or a snack, it’s like our children forget that we are separate people–not just maids whose lives are dedicated to serving them.
While this type of attitude is healthy and beneficial for newborns, who truly are entirely dependent on us, it quickly becomes time-consuming and annoying once our darling little children are old enough to do things for themselves.
Thankfully, bad habits can be broken, and they should be. Not only will this free up plenty of extra time for you, but it will also give your children a sense of responsibility, independence and capability–three things they crave now and desperately need for later.
So how do you teach your children to be more responsible for themselves? Here are three steps.
1. Stop Doing Things for Them that They Can Do Themselves
As long as you keep doing things for your children that they can do themselves, they will expect you to continue to do them. This doesn’t mean that you should never do anything for your children, of course, only that you should politely excuse yourself from your role as their servant.
If your children are old enough to put their toys away, pack their own lunches, remember their backpacks or do their own laundry–let them! Chores like these should be their job, not yours. (Again, not that you should never help out, but eventually, they need to learn to take responsibility.)
*Make sure you have a discussion with your children in which you tell them that these are now their responsibilities. That way they know what to expect and aren’t blindsided.
2. Let Them Experience the Consequences
Once you’ve handed the responsibilities over to your children, step away and let them be responsible! Sure, they will fail from time to time, but experience is the best teacher, and it is MUCH better for you children to learn personal responsibility now than to learn it the hard way later.
Did your child forget his homework? You don’t need to bring it to him, nag him to remember or lecture him after the fact. The only way he is going to learn to remember is if he experiences the consequences of his action. Let consequences be the teacher.
3. Talk Through the Issues With Them
Of course, as loving parents it is only natural to not what to let your babies fend for themselves. Thankfully you don’t have to. You can still help out from time to time because you want to. And you should absolutely talk through the issues with them to help them learn the right lessons and to reflect on what they have learned. The difference, however, is that you will be guiding and teaching your child in a way that is loving and effective (if a little harsh at first), instead of constantly feeling run-down and taken advantage of because all of this help is taken for granted.
Are your children pretty independent or do they still expect you to do things for you that they are capable of doing themselves? What is one task or chore you can hand back over to your children?