Responsibility and Independence in Young Children

Have you taken the time to look at young children lately? Perhaps you have noticed, like I have, how the majority of young children don’t display much responsibility and independence like they used to? I don’t necessarily think this is the children’s fault, but more the parents fault. And, before I offend anyone, I am guilty myself.

There is no doubt in my mind that my five year old son could do more on his own. The problem is that my husband and I both tend to do things for him…more than we should for his age. With that being said, below are a few ways that parents (including my husband and I) could help build a greater sense of responsibility and independence in their young children.

  • Preparing breakfast. Obviously, I am not going to let my five year old son fix eggs and bacon for the family on Saturday morning. But, he is old enough to fix himself a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. All I need to do is fill a cup half way up with milk and leave in the fridge and he can pour it in a bowl with some cereal…or, set the toaster out by the loaf of bread for toast. Not only will allowing him to fix his own breakfast help him, but it will also help my husband and I as we won’t have to get up at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning to feed the little guy.
  • Getting dressed. This is another issue many parents choose to ignore, choosing to believe that their little ones need them to pick out their clothing and get them dressed until they go to kindergarten. However, most children are able to dress themselves by the time they are 3 ½, so why not let them? It makes them feel good about themselves and is one less thing we have to do.
  • Homework. This is for those who have children in school (above pre-K). I have several friends who teach elementary school and they are all constantly talking about how many parents do their kids’ homework for them. Now, am I saying that you shouldn’t help your child with homework? No. I am saying, though, that you shouldn’t do the work for them. Let your kids sit down, alone, and work on homework. When they are done, review the paper with them and then help them figure out the correct answers for the problems they weren’t able to do or answered incorrectly. Then, when they receive an A on their assignment, they will experience a real sense of accomplishment because they did it themselves!
  • Keeping track of personal items. This is the one that irritates me the most. Kids are constantly asking their parents where they left a toy, cell phone, pair of shoes, etc. And, what happens if something gets lost? Mom and dad go out and buy a replacement. This doesn’t teach kids anything but instead promotes irresponsibility. Therefore, when the kids are young let them lose their favorite toy and don’t buy another one if it gets lost. This is the only way kids will start being responsible for their things. And, if it’s taught when they are young, they won’t have a problem when they are older.

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