When they’re babies you do everything for them, but that stage doesn’t last forever. Before you know it, your toddler is shouting, “I do it self!” Raising independent kids who can accept personal responsibility means future adults that do the same. But how do we manage our expectations of our kids in an age-appropriate way and balance that with our instincts to make sure everything is okay? Here are five parent-friendly tips for helping teach kids independence.
1. Make Expectations Clear (and Visual!)
Whether your child is four or fourteen, a visual reminder of daily routines and schedules will work as a prompt. With younger kids, rewards are frequently part of establishing a routine but even as kids get older, a to-do list will give them a sense of control. Whether it’s a simple whiteboard with weekly tasks or a rainbow sticker covered chore chart, find something that fits your family and your child’s personality.
2. Keep Supplies Handy
Help kids help themselves by making sure the things they need to achieve their tasks are within easy reach. Put healthy snacks in a bin in the pantry they can reach themselves when they are hungry. Make sure things like toothpaste, face wash, washcloths, contact lens solution and hairbrushes are all somewhere easy to grab (and replenish) when they need it.
3. Make It Achievable & Age-Appropriate
Giving a toddler a basket of laundry to fold is not going to help anyone (although it does keep them occupied for a while!). So, make sure your child’s daily to-dos are age-appropriate. By asking them to do things that are manageable, they will quickly gain a sense of accomplishment and independence.
For example, children who are 5 or 6 can do things like get the mail, feed the pets and set the table. Most kids after age 3 or 4 can perform basic hygiene rituals, like brushing their teeth and washing their face, without the aid of a grown-up.
If your child starts to wear contact lenses they can learn to both insert and remove the lenses themselves. This may seem tricky at first because they are literally putting something in their eye, but with practice, they’ll have the hang of it in no time, and they’ll be proud of themselves to boot! In fact, 9 of 10 children as young as 8 years old are able to insert and remove their lenses on their own.¹ If your age-appropriate child wears contact lenses, make it easier on your kids by giving them daily-wear lenses, like MiSight® 1 day soft contact lenses, that can be used just once and then disposed of, saving them the additional steps of cleaning and soaking the lenses.
4. Be Patient
We’ve all been in that situation where you’re running late and it takes about ten million minutes for your kid to tie their shoe. While your instinct is to just do it for them and get going, try to build your daily schedule with time to allow them to do these things themself. If you know they take extra time to tie their shoes, wake them up 10 minutes early, or better yet tell them it’s 10 minutes later than it really is. Whether it's contact lenses, remembering their lunch or clearing their plate, gentle reminders are different than taking over. Parents and caregivers are human, and we’re not going to be patient all the time, but the more you allow your child to take care of things themself, the more independent and confident they will become.
5. Let the Small Stuff Go
From mismatched outfits to messy hair to the crooked little way they made their bed, try to think of the bigger picture before you take over. If every time your kid makes their bed you send the signal that they didn’t do a good enough job, they will feel like they can’t do it. If instead, every time they make their bed, no matter how wrinkly or crooked, you can look at it with gratitude that you didn’t have to do it for them, they will feel like they are doing it right.
As parents, the more we can embrace the imperfections and not let the many, many, messy moments bother us, the more our children will gain independence. And if you need it to be neater, do it when they aren’t looking.
Indications and Important Safety Information.
Results may vary.
ATTENTION: Reference the Patient Information Booklet for a complete listing of Indications and Important Safety Information. *Indication: MiSight® 1 day (omafilcon A) soft (hydrophilic) contact lenses for daily wear are indicated for the correction of myopic ametropia and for slowing the progression of myopia in children with non-diseased eyes, who at the initiation of treatment are 8-12 years of age and have refraction of -0.75 to -4.00 diopters(spherical equivalent) with 0.75 diopters of astigmatism. The lens is to be discarded after each removal. Warnings: Problems with contact lenses could result in serious injury to the eye. Do not expose contact lenses to water while wearing them. Under certain circumstances MiSight® lenses optical design can cause reduced image contrast/ghosting/halo/glare in some patients that may cause difficulties with certain visually demanding tasks. Precautions: Daily wear single use only. Patient should always dispose when lenses are removed. No overnight wear. Patients should exercise extra care if performing potentially hazardous activities. Adverse events: Including but not limited to infection/inflammation/ulceration/abrasion of the cornea, other parts of the eye or eyelids. Some of these adverse reactions can cause permanent or temporary loss of vision. If you notice any of the stated in your child, immediately have your child remove the lenses and contact your eye care professional.
¹ By 1 month. As reported by parents. REF: CVI data on file 2018. MiSight 1 day 3-year study report.