If you’ve ever read my blog before, you know that I strongly encourage self-sufficiency skills in children. It boosts their confidence when they learn to do things for themselves, and (let’s be honest) it makes your job as a parent much easier.
We have a problem in America called stressed out parenting. And the idea exists that if you worry about and foresee every possible situation your child could be in, you can save them. But of course it never works out that way, and you are well aware of that.
Instead of trying to do everything for them, choose to equip your children with the necessary life skills so that they can get THEMSELVES through those difficult moments.
Here are a set of five things you can stop doing for your preschooler. A couple of these are going to take a little time to teach them. And they may not like the transition. But at the end of the day, they are going to be better off for having new skills in their pocket, and you are going to rest easy knowing that’s five less things you have to take care of every day.
Tying their shoes
Let’s start basic. Every kid has to learn eventually, and tell me you don’t get tired of retying those shoes every ten minutes at the playground. Even double knots seem to magically work their way out of an active kids shoes.
Sure, you can get away with wearing velcro when they’re young, but why not go ahead and teach them how to tie a proper shoe? That way, when they start kindergarten or first grade, they can easily take care of their own shoe malfunctions instead of having to find a teacher.
There are lots of internet instructionals out there if you aren’t sure how to start.
There is a YouTube tutorial from Kid Skillz that demonstrates a creative method for teaching shoe tying. I came across it because it had an excellent review on Pinterest from someone who had successfully taught her child to tie his shoes within minutes of watching this video.
Here is a big old shoe tying resource post that has dozens of tips for teaching children to tie shoes. There’s bound to be something useful in there for your shoe tying lessons.
Lastly, this mom got real creative and got some older kids that her sons admired to come teach them how to tie their shoes. And it totally worked! If your kids are more inclined to learn from someone else, that might be the way to go. No shame if it works, right?
Happy shoe tying (for them, not you)!
Wiping their bottom
I made a lot of kids mad when I worked in the preschool classrooms at a daycare because I simply refused to wipe their bottoms. It’s not that I’m grossed out – I did work with two-year-olds before that and there were a LOT of bodily functions going on in that classroom – but they were old enough to wipe themselves.
The problem was, a lot of their parents still did it for them! Please do your child’s preschool teacher a favour and teach them how to wipe their own bottom.
Here are a couple posts giving tips and advice with regards to this life lesson.
How to Teach Your Child to Wipe Their Bottom ( from Snotty Noses)
Brilliantly Creative Potty Training Trick to Teach Your Child to Wipe Themselves (from Lemon Lime Adventures)
We’ve talked about this one before, but because I still encounter parents on a daily basis who don’t know any better, we’re gonna talk about it again.
The best thing you can do for your child who gets into a (nonviolent) conflict with another child is to LET THEM SOLVE IT. Figuring out how to compromise and work together is a social skill everybody should learn (although we all know some people who never did). It’s amazing how fast kids resolve their own squabbles if parents just stay out of the mix.
Working things out between each other encourages communication, preparing them for all relationships in their future. Staying out of children’s conflicts also lets them know that you have faith in their ability to solve their own problems. It will actually increase their confidence knowing that mommy and daddy didn’t need to come to their rescue.
Sources and further reading:
Letting Your Kids Fight Their Own Battles (from Psych Central)
Why You Shouldn’t Solve Your Child’s Social Conflicts (from Sleeping Should be Easy)
Putting their stuff away
This one kind of sneaks up on us, right? One minute we’re reminding them to put their blocks away, the next we’re on the floor cleaning the blocks while they’re off dancing in the living room. How did that even happen?
I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be cleaning their messes up for the rest of your life, and their future roommate/spouse isn’t going to appreciate that either. Do everyone a favour and put in the effort now to teach your child to clean up after themselves.
And this doesn’t just mean their toys. I am alarmed by the amount of children I know who leave their dishes on the table after a meal and expect their parents to put them away. Your four-year-old is totally capable of scraping their plate off into the garbage and putting it in the sink/dishwasher. I know this because starting at age 1 (yes, you read that right) we taught all of the children at daycare to put their own dishes away after each meal.
I wrote a totally rad post on this a few months back called 5 Creative Way to Make Kids Want to Clean Up so if your preschooler is anti-cleaning, you may want to give it a read. Be inspired.
Woah. Wait. What? Parents are supposed to play with their kids!
Absolutely. I am all for parents playing and interacting with their kids. I can see the difference between children who get enough attention from mommy and daddy and those who don’t.
But at the end of the day, your primary job is not entertaining them. You have other jobs as well, like getting food on the table and making sure they have clean clothes. They can help you with those tasks, if they choose. But by preschool age, your child should be able to self-entertain for lengthy periods of time.
You don’t have to play pretend for the millionth time that day. You don’t have to put on a show for them to watch because they are begging. You don’t have to watch the new “trick” they do fifty times in a row.
Acknowledge them. Love them. Give them your time. Then step away and let them play while you do something else.
Isn’t that freeing? You’re not a bad parent for taking time away from your kids! In some European cultures (such as France and Italy), evening time is parent time. Kids are allowed to be present, but they are not the stars of the show. They are expected to play quietly amongst themselves, or listen to the adult conversation.
It’s easy for life to get kid-centric when you’re a parent, but don’t forget that you were an individual before you were a parent as well.