Is there such magic? Something about the home can actually make a child more independent?
Raise your hands if you want your kids to
- brush their own teeth
- put on their own clothes
- put on their own shoes
- tidy up the toys and books after use
- get their own snacks
- wash their own hands
- go to the potty on their own
- start drawing and painting without pestering you for paper and crayons
- keep their own bags when they come back from school
- and exhibit many more independent traits …
Well, that sounds like one awesome kid doesn’t it? *Psst… I’ll let you in on the secret… they actually do exist! They can exist in your own home too! I know, your kids can be independent. It sounds almost impossible right? But it isn’t too far-fetched. They can start to be independent as early as 3 years old, no kidding. I have my kids to prove it, otherwise how else do you think I can manage 3 kids 7 years old and under? 🙂
They key is ….. *drumroll*……..
Put everything they need
AT THEIR LEVEL.
That simple. So simple. But it helps unload you of so many unnecessary tasks in a day that you might actually get a chance to catch that coffee before it turns cold. I’m serious.
Make everything you want them to access actually accessible without your assistance. That’s how you train a child to be independent. Create opportunities for them to actually do something without needing your help all the time.
- When we moved into the house we bought, we did a little adjustment to our bathroom. We intentionally installed the sink to be lower than the standard height. Not too short, but at a height comfortable enough for a 2-year-old to step on a short stool and turn on the faucet by himself. And we made sure that height was not too low for adults as well. We don’t want to inconvenient ourselves while trying to make things easy for the kids. After all, it’s OUR house right? 🙂
- Our boys each have their own kiddy wardrobe from IKEA that is just perfect for their little heights. They LOVE choosing their own clothes after coming out of the shower, especially my 3-year-old. My 7-year-old and 5-year-old have been dressing themselves since they were 4! I’ve had quite a good life haven’t I? 🙂
- Outside our door, we have 3 short stools for them to sit on while putting on their own shoes. Like clothes, socks are accessible in low drawers and shoes are accessible in the lower rack of the shoe rack.
- Bookshelves and toy boxes in our house are all at kids’ level. Although they don’t always clean up after themselves, it helps tremendously that they can access their things any time they want. It teaches them how to self-entertain as well as creates the opportunity for them to learn to put things back to its rightful place without needing an adult’s hand.
- In our kitchen, we have special racks that keep plastic cups, bowls, spoons, forks and knives. The cereal packages and bread are at their level. The milk and jam in the fridge are at their level. They help themselves when they’re hungry. Isn’t that every mom’s dream? My 5-year-old and 7-year-old can do this, but my 3-year-old still needs my help of course 🙂 but he observes his brothers and I’m sure he’ll be able to help himself when he’s ready.
- Set up a art-and-craft station for your kids. Trust me, it’ll save you some sanity. I despise hearing “mummy, can you give me a piece of paper? mummy, can you give me a pair of scissors?”…. The accessible art-and-craft station can really save me the frustration of having to get everything for them. Try it!