While it is never too early to start thinking about ways to foster independence in your child, sometimes life has a way of getting in the way. As parents juggling the demands of work, home, practice and whatever else happens in a day, we forget or don’t realize our children are in fact old enough to learn ways to help out around the house. They are mature enough to understand there are things they should be doing for themselves.
Here are three things your tween should be doing for themselves at home:
1. Laundry. Once upon a time, laundry day left you with a clean hamper and a fresh wardrobe. When you became a parent that all changed. There is no such thing as an empty hamper once you have children and now its time to employ their help. Teaching your children how to sort, fold, and use the washer and dryer at an early age is not only helpful to you, but helps your tween learn important lessons about cleanliness and taking responsibility for the clothes they wear each day.
2. Cooking. It might be messy at first. You might hold your breath watching your eight year old stir the ingredients together to make pancakes or the first time they pour the beaten eggs into the skillet for breakfast. There will be mess! But it’s never too early to start teaching your child basic cooking skills. Start small by encouraging your tween to get involved with meal prep, even if it’s something as simple as learning the steps to portion out ingredients. Teach them how to make their own lunch for school; you can start by designating one or two days a week where you put your tween in charge of lunch and build up from there. Consider having portions of “parent-approved” options for snacks and fruit available for them to choose from, but otherwise let it be their choice. That way they are both sharing in the responsibility and learning to make healthy decisions. Once you’ve mastered some basics, try a more substantial cooking lesson, such as making scrambled eggs or quesadillas with your supervision.
3. Start the day. Sure, they’re most likely going to bed a lot later than they used to, but that doesn’t make waking up on their own in the morning any less important. Teaching your tween to set an alarm to wake up on their own is a necessary rite of passage that is made even easier these days by Smartphone apps that encourage your child to select music to fall asleep to as well as designate when to wake up in the morning. And that good ‘ole alarm clock still works fine, too. Regardless of the tools used, it instills responsibility while simultaneously fostering creativity in the most practical of ways.
Fostering independence in your tween is just another way you parent. It’s another way you teach your child to live. Because ultimately that’s what it really is all about.
About Shannon Tennyson
Shannon Tennyson is mom to a tween and young teen in North Carolina. Three years ago Shannon and her family packed their belongings, rented their home, and moved to Paris for a grand adventure, returning in late 2014. That experience later inspired the launch of tween brand CALZICO with her daughter. CALZICO is a globally-inspired, versatile clothing brand for tweens. To see what Shannon's up to, visit calzico.com or on FB, Twitter or Instagram @calzico.