There may be days when you wonder whether your middle-schooler will ever be independent.
Will he be 35 and still incapable of remembering to put the toilet seat down?
Will you still be delivering her forgotten lunches when she works as a corporate lawyer in her 40’s?
Surely at least one sock will eventually make it into the dirty clothes hamper… right?
There are so many life skills we have to teach our children before they leave us to become adults. Providing the structure and safe place for them to practice (and even fail) while they develop this ability is vital for their long-term development.
Here are some ways to help and encourage them to take the initiative to cultivate their independence.
Build Your Toolbox
Timers – Timers are great way to help your kids be responsible, for smaller tasks that needed to do in an hour or less. If you have given them a phone, have them use the timer function. In the beginning, set yours for the same time so you can be sure they are responding when it goes off. There are inexpensive digital kitchen timers available in many stores and online. You can even find them at some local stores.
Most ovens also have a built-in timer function that you can use without turning on the heating element. Even an analog ‘egg timer’ that ticks the seconds and minutes away can be helpful as the sound itself may remind your child to remain focused on his task.
Paper Calendars and Personal Planners – For longer-term projects and appointments, do not underestimate the usefulness of calendars and planners. This tools can help you make your kids take responsibilities for themselves.
If you still don’t have it, add a family calendar in a prominent place where everyone can access it. Expect each family member to be responsible for adding all of their own events on the color chosen that is assigned to them. The act of writing it down ties them to that responsibility.
In addition to the larger family calendar, equipped everyone with smaller personal planners. Have informal planning parties where you share snacks or have a game night once a month after spending a little time looking at the weeks ahead and updating all your planners.
If your child is particularly artistic or enjoys crafting, you might even consider doing bullet journaling together. Its a way of planning that makes calendars and checklists very personalized and emphasizes a healthy outlet for creativity.
Checklists – When a task seems monumental, people often freeze, avoiding the task completely rather than approaching it with a well-formed plan. Checklists are particularly handy for breaking down responsibilities into smaller, more manageable portions that will provide them a quicker sense of accomplishment, leading them to increase productivity. This will help your kids on this responsibility-training time.
Consider combining a checklist with a calendar or planner, especially for school projects or other long-term goals, spacing the smaller goals of the project into bite-sized, easily-managed chunks.
Chore and Sticker Charts – If your child needs help to remember weekly or daily routines, you may want to use sticker charts. This will be a helpful tool to make them responsible, especially when they already used it when they were younger.
Any chart will do, but basically, you’ll need a column for the name of the activity or chore and a place to physically check off the completed activities each day of the week. Don’t require them to actually use stickers, but note that many kids this age (and a lot older) secretly love the nostalgia of stickers, so have some small ones on hand just in case.
Take It Slow and Be Consistent
Once you have decided on a method, set up a system together. Oversee it for several weeks, being sure you both agree on what the successfully completed task should look like.
When they seem to understand and are able to handle the task without your guidance, give them the opportunity to practice without your help, backing off slowly. The key here is to gradually expecting him or her to take the lead more and more until it is fully their responsibility.
When you see that the habit has been fully established, you can check it every week, then every few weeks, and every few months just to make sure they are really maintaining the habit of keeping track of their own responsibilities.
Throughout the process, consistency is key. Don’t tell them they are responsible to pick up after themselves, then follow them around doing it for them. Once you’ve established that it’s their responsibility, there should be a natural consequence if they fail to do it.
For example, returning to the socks in the hamper issue, if they continue leaving their socks everywhere, they will eventually run out of clean socks and have to either wear dirty ones or go without for the day.
Play the role of Coach
There are life skills we sometimes assume that our kids would picked up from us, but you shouldn’t assume your child knows to do anything you haven’t intentionally taught them. In fact, it’s likely you will have to teach them new skills more than once.
Finally, your role as the coach is to ask thought-provoking questions and reinforce good behaviors.
Here are some questions you can start to use immediately:
- Are you proud of the way you responded to that?
- What would you do differently if you could do that over?
- How do you think your actions made Sally feel?
- Do you feel good about how you handled that?
- How did you handle the situation?
Comments that inspire responsible behaviors like:
- I love who you are becoming.
- You owned that like a boss.
- Great job stepping up today.
- You are a responsible kid.
- You are really good at …..
For most children learning responsibility is something they need to learn, just like riding a bike. A few things to keep in mind when teaching responsibility: give them the tools to be successful, be patient and consistent, and coach them. Ultimately your voice as a parent becomes their inner voice. Remember to use positive words when they show ownership and responsibility as you will continue to see those responsible behaviors and actions. Give them the tools to be successful and the inspiration to grow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie is the ‘mom behind the keyboard at Super Mom Picks, a parenting tips, ideas, and product reviews blog. She is a full-time working mom who has a passion for improving her family’s health, happiness, intellect, and overall quality of life experiences.
We all love travelling, who doesn’t?
For most of us travelling is an exciting event, full of new surprises and fresh sceneries to look forward to. It makes our heart yearning in anticipation of what will happen next and makes our mind imagining what experiences we could have on the trip. We love it so much to the point that we make sure we are really prepared for it.
When I and my husband were still newly-wedded couples ten years ago, a spur-of-the-moment trip is great and desirable but now that we have two kids I don’t know if unplanned excursions are still amenable or acceptable! Haha! How can it be? Having your own children when travelling is not easy, most especially if it’s a long road trip.
Here in the Philippines there are a lot of beautiful places where you could visit just travelling by land. The longest travel that our family experience is around eight hours. The itinerary – we were going to Baguio, the Summer Capital of the Philippine. It’s in the Mountain Province so basically it’s lush greenery and slopes. Very beautiful and chilly place. The eight hours of travel time has a catch. We stop over and stay in a hotel in Pangasinan, a four-hour drive, so we were able to rest and travel again on the next day. We completed the eight-hour journey non-stop when going home. I will share with you our whole Baguio story on my future articles.
So my family made the long road marathon, right? And I can say we always made it. Because we love to travel, though we have a toddler and a kid there’s nothing can stop us from doing it! Of course except only when kids are sick. For you to prevent these undesirable circumstances and have great travelling memories I will share my own Do’s and Don’ts while having long road trips with your little kids.
1. Bring Your Kids To Their Pediatrician A Week Before The Trip
This is an SOP for us as parents. Before going anywhere else have your children visit first their doctor and check their health stats. Ask their pedia if they need a vaccine for flu or other viral illnesses for them to be protected when going vacation. If you’re your kids have coughs and colds this is the right time to get medications and you still have time to treat it.
2. Do Prepare Your Kid’s Essential
Since you have kids now this is the best time to be more systematic and be more organize (somehow hehe..) As their mom and their parent you have the responsibility to prepare for their needs, you don’t want to neglect these things and just hurriedly pack and go with your family. Believe me, it will ruin your vacation and could give you more than just a headache. Of course, we want to enjoy this kind of rare moments but you can’t fully enjoy it if you cannot do some preparation and assistance for your kid’s needs.
Is this true Lai? You may say.
Of course, this is true! How can you be happy on your vacation if you didn’t do your mommy duties first by preparing your kid’s things? Your ‘mom motto’ should be “Kid’s First Before Yourself” and not “Me First Before Kids”- always think this way in everything you do for you to have a total enjoyment and happiness on your planned trip. Although we want to ‘escape’ somehow in our daily mom routines, yes I know the feeling, but you can’t overlook this part just for your own convenience.
LAI IS A METICULOUS PLANNER
In preparing things for our family travels I can say that I am a completely meticulous planner and a thorough organizer. I got these skills from my late father and I am proud of it. He taught me to prepare things ahead of time and anticipate future events by packing enough clothes and needed accessories when vacationing. Until now that I have my own family I do this. So for my kids, these are the things that I prepare for them if we will have a two-night vacation:
What can you say on my kid’s essential list? Is it long? Hahah! I told you so! Usually I only use one big bag for my own clothes and my kid’s stuff but as time goes by and kids grow up so fast I think one bag will not be enough! So are we done? There’s more!
3. Do Pack Your Family’s Needs A Night Before The Big Date
After you already complete your kid’s things you will now focus on your family’s need on the general view. These are but not limited to:
4. Do Make Sure The Car Is In 100% Condition
To succeed in long drive trips a well-conditioned car is a must. You don’t want to have any disturbance or lag because the car’s engine is overheated. No, you don’t want to have that kind of problems when travelling with your kids. Remember when something is wrong on your car you have to shut down its aircon thus making the kid’s irritated and more difficult to manage. So tell to your husband to start conditioning your car a week before the trip.
1.Don’t Stress Yourself Too Much
I know you, mom, with your hands (and shoulders) full you feel stress and agitated for all of the things that you should do and prepare. It’s natural but as I say on my blog’s second article you can control your emotions. You can and you have to. So much stress will bring you no good. You only get stressed on packing when you didn’t prepare ahead of time and you hurriedly do things the night before the travel or worst you are just packing on the same day! Wooh! It’s all in your hands mom I will leave it all to you.
2. Don’t Overdo It!
I know I said you should prepare but I didn’t say you overdo it and put everything you see in your house. There is a balance for everything. You can’t carry unnecessary items like a ceramic mug or more clothes inside your baggage since it will just put more weight on your car. Be meticulous but not in an exaggerated way. You want to leave your house for a day or two so don’t make it look like you didn’t leave at all.
3.Don’t Be Too Negative
Your outlook will have a great impact on the outcome of your family’s road trip. If from the start you think your kids won’t be cooperative or will not behave the way you want them to then you already dictate the ending scenario even before it happens. Just go with the flow and do your part to make it will be truly memorable to all of you. Children are children, they will do things that will make you frown, but when they see new places like long highways, green pastures or animals taking shelter under trees, you will see amazement and joy from their eyes you would whisper to yourself that “I’m glad they’re with me right now”.
So basically these are my two cents of advice for you and I hope you learn a lot from my tips. There’s many more of it but these are the basic things that you should remember for your family to have a cheerful and memorable long road trip.
Going back to my promise (you thought I forgot it already hehe..) here is my own list of items that I personally prepare and take ‘inside the car’. Of course, all of the baggage will be placed in the car’s trunk and as a mom, I only take the important items inside. So here it is:
I will be sharing more of travelling tips and ideas as I go along my site and create a journal of our lives. Stay tuned and subscribe at my newsletter for me to inform you my latest info about family and life. Thank you! – Lai