You’re probably laughing right now, thinking, “what is independence??” My children are always touching me, always interrupting me, and are always needing me for something. It’s so much faster if I just do things myself, then I know I’ve done them right.
Yep, I’ve said it before, too, but then I had twins and split shifts with my husband. My twins were maybe two, and I was drowning. For two years, I had done everything for them, and I couldn’t hang anymore. Then I read this quote,
“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend” -Charlotte Mason
Whew, just take that in for a minute. Suddenly I felt an immense amount of pressure to train up my children to be perfect. Drowning in trying to control every situation and make sure my kids were on top of it was exhausting. Soon I realized that part of forming habits is actually teaching them how to be independent. Kids crave independence, but independence with no guidance can lead to misplaced frustrations.
Here are my tips for creating habits in your children.
Step 1: Pick the tasks or times of the day that make you the most frustrated…
Hate making dinner? Get your kids to help you. We use kid-safe nylon knives. I modeled how to use the knife and how to hold the food. Then the kids have the freedom to try and help me prepare dinner at the same time.
Can’t stand the constant splashing of bath time? It’s time to teach your kiddo how to shower. Model for them what to do in the shower. Sit in the bathroom the first few times.
Frustrated by the constant clutter of shoes by the door? Come up with a plan. Every time you come in the door, everyone stops and puts their shoes in the bin immediately before continuing on.
So sick of vacuuming? Great! It’s the perfect task for your 4-year-old. Show them how to vacuum, how to get the vacuum out and let them go at it. My son LOVES to vacuum. After lunch is always chore time in our house. He knows to just go grab the vacuum after lunch.
Now here’s the key- CONSISTENCY. Use a gentle but firm voice to remind your child, their day does not move on until the task is done. While that seems firm, remember that quote above from Charlotte Mason. Every hour and every minute, we are forming habits. These habits will mold our children into independence.
Habits take practice. They require modeling but putting in the work now can help you feel some relief!
As an example, here are some habits we have implemented this summer. For reference, my twins just turned five in late July!
My twins have practiced the habit of filling their own water bottles, learning how to open the top and close the top by themselves —stopping to check to see that it’s not going to overflow. I was shocked at how we haven’t had many spills!
My son asked to learn how to use the soda fountain at the store to fill up my cup for me. This practice actually built on the other habit we were working on of filling up their water bottles. Now when we go to Costco, they fill up their own cups!
This summer, we have also worked on a more hands-on approach for the twins helping prep dinner and their own food. You can see we found some kid-safe knives on Amazon for them to help!
Creating habits can be so hard at first but so magical when you see how much your child can do from such a young age!