How many of us, as parents, ignore the fact that our children are capable of making sensible decisions? Most often we underestimate our children and their ability to take on responsibility. We cannot treat them like babies forever! So here’s a 6-step guide on how to teach children self reliance and is a must in early child development:
Step 1: Show respect
Even as early as 2 years of age your kids will pick up nuances from your tone of voice and the words you use while addressing them. If you converse with them as if they are adults, 99% of the time they will understand everything you’ve said and will follow your advice. Treat them like equals and with respect, and the response you will get will be surprisingly mature.
Step 2: Identify self-help tasks
What are the daily tasks you can let your small children do on their own? Make a list of things they can do independently, for example brushing teeth, making the bed, bathing, wearing ones clothes, wearing socks and tying shoe laces, carrying their own satchels, etc. Emphasize that these tasks are their own responsibility.
Step 3: Assign responsibilities
Even when children are 3-4 years of age, it makes sense to assign some tasks for them. They feel a sense of belonging and will take on the tasks willingly. It could be anything simple like sorting the laundry, watering the plants, setting the table, keeping toys back in the allotted place or any activity that will teach the child to help around the house.
But don’t try to teach too many tasks at the same time or they might feel diffident. Introduce one new responsibility per week or a fortnight and demonstrate easier ways of doing things.
Step 4: Keep reasonable standards
Don’t expect your children to learn a something new perfectly in the first shot. Give the kids time to use their own imagination so that they can find faster and better ways of doing things. They may make mistakes initially but they will learn to correct them on their own.
Step 5: Encourage independent thought
If your kids do things differently let them. Encourage them to think before they do something so that they learn to understand the consequences of their actions when they are still very young. On the other hand, you have to
Step 6: Listen, listen and listen
The more we listen, the more we will truly understand our children. Giving your children time and listening to them talk will give you a clear glimpse into their thought processes, likes and dislikes, prejudices, biases, talents that you can encourage, problem areas, etc. Listening will help to bridge the gap between your ideas and those of your children. It will also give you the opportunity to teach them to be independent.
Children learn a lot more by setting an example than by mere instruction. In early childhood you have the perfect opportunity to mould your children’s thoughts in the right direction. Spend more time with them and involve them in most of the household activities. And most importantly discuss issues with them as if they are adults. That’s the easiest way to teach children self reliance.