The 4 Moms of 35+ Kids are discussing self sufficiency in children.
A reader question prompted the topic of this post, "What do you do for your children and what do they do for themselves? Baths, cleaning, clothes maintenance, etc."
My policy is to allow and encourage children to do any and all things they are physically capable of.
A good example of this is getting a drink of water. I keep our plastic kid cups in an easily accessible drawer, so even our 2 year old can get a cup out all by herself. She can reach the in-door water dispenser in the fridge and knows how to get herself a drink.
Occasionally, she asks me to get water for her, but I remind her that she is a big girl and can get her own water.
Once I am positive a child is fully capable of doing a thing, like getting a drink, I put that responsibility on them from that point on.
My 8 year old knows how to operate the washing machine and dryer and has a specific day of the week to do her own laundry, as do all of her older siblings.
She may not always want to do her laundry, but I know that she is capable of it, so the task belongs to her now.
I believe I am training my children to be more and more self sufficient as they get older, and also instilling in them confidence in their capabilities.
I do not need to give them a gold star or a smiley face on a progress report because they have tangible evidence that they can do important things. A cup of water to drink, gotten without aid, and a basket of clean, fresh smelling laundry are rewards they have earned and reaped themselves.
Of course, if I want a task done to certain specifications, like a bath using soap, or clothes put away and drawers closed, I monitor to make sure it is done properly.
Here are the ages I expect my children to do certain things on their own:
2 Years Old
- Get a drink.
- Throw away dirty diapers.
- Put on shoes. (Here's a tip for getting shoes on the right feet.)
- Get in car seat.
4 Years Old
- Buckle car seat.
- Wash and rinse self in bath.
- Brush teeth.
- Get dressed.
- Put away clothes.
- Wipe bottom after pottying.
- Take dishes to sink after eating.
6 Years Old
- Bathe and wash hair.
- Open and close van door.
- Make a sandwich.
- Read directions.
- Fold clothes.
- Set the table.
8 Years Old
- Do laundry.
- Read Bible.
- Change sheets.
- Vacuum room.
- Make scrambled eggs.
- Take out trash.
10 Years Old
- Organize own closet.
- Make lunch.
- Direct own daily schedule.
- Schedule own baths.
- Feed and care for own animals.
Each age comes with new personal responsibilities in addition to those they were already doing in earlier years. These may not be the same standards you set in your family, but it works well for us.
By encouraging self sufficiency in our children, we are training them up to be responsible, self sufficient adults, and along the way giving them a positive self image which comes from trying hard to achieve a task.
Now, be sure to check out what the rest of my 4 Mom team expect their children to do on their own.