Sunday, 8 September 2013

Fostering Independence - What can children do for themselves?

As I'm sure most mothers do, I want my children to grow up to be independent.  That isn't all - I also want them to be kind, happy, self assured, generous and honest.  But for now, lets look at independence.

What can children of different ages be expected to do for themselves?  Naturally every child is different, and some may be more or less eager or reluctant to do things for themselves, regardless of their actual ability.  C is quite reluctant to take responsibility for things, where Bug will insist on doing things for herself even if she physically can't do it yet - this morning I found her climbing on the kitchen cupboards so that she could get her own bowl out!
Here are some of the things that my children can, and are expected to do for themselves:

Bug - Age 2.5
  • gets her clothes out of the wardrobe (she can't reach the hanging rail yet so needs help there)
  • get her pyjamas and nappy off, wipe her bottom with a wipe, get herself dressed
  • select her breakfast cereal and pour it with help
  • choose her spoon and carry it through to the table
  • wipe face and hands after eating
  • sometimes carry her empty bowl or cup through to the kitchen
  • brush her own teeth with help
  • take herself to the toilet (help with wiping, help with hand-washing)
  • feed the fish with help
  • help hang the washing
  • carry her clean clothes through to the bedroom and help put them away
  • put her toys away when she's finished with them (for some reason she seems to think that this is my job!)
  • help sweep the kitchen
  • wipe the table
  • help clean up any spills
  • water her part of the garden
  • give the dog a snack
  • put her own shoes on when we're going out
  • be responsible for her own bag if she takes it out
  • at swimming change herself (she still needs help with the swimsuit)
  • ask the swimming pool attendant for a toy
  • at the swimming pool cafe collect her own cutlery and napkins
  • stirring and adding ingredients when cooking, chopping with help.
C - age 4
  • get up (not before 7am), go to the toilet, choose clothes and get dressed.
  • collect breakfast cereals, pour into bowl and pour milk with help
  • carry drink and spoon through to the other room
  • clear and wipe table
  • wipe own hands and face after eating
  • brush teeth (help with squeezing the toothpaste)
  • go to the toilet himself when needed
  • feed the fish and sometimes the dog
  • help with vacuuming and dusting, watering plants and cleaning windows
  • tidy up his own toys
  • put on shoes and coat
  • be responsible for own bag (still a struggle this one - he's a bit like a mad professor sometimes and would lose his head if it wasn't attached!)
  • get in and out of the bath and wash himself (help needed with hair)
  • at swimming change himself, dry himself etc.
  • ask the swimming pool attendant for a toy or float
  • at the swimming pool cafe collect own cutlery and napkins
  • when buying something, take the money to the counter, ask for what he wants, pay for it and wait for any change
  • open the car door, get in, and fasten seat-belt
  • chopping and grating, stirring etc when cooking
I'm sure there is more that they can and regularly do, but it's nice to see some progression here.  I'm trying hard not to do things for them if they can do them by themselves, however frustrating that is when I am trying to get out of the door and they are taking forever to put their shoes on.
Next steps for C include pouring more drinks himself; carrying bowls, plates and cups even when they have something in; washing his own hair and learning to shower himself;

I'm intrigued to see how this progresses - I'd love to know the types of thing that your children of different ages can do for themselves?


  1. I love when kids are allowed to be responsible! There's such a lot of mollycoddling these days. Not to mention just being so busy that there isn't time to LET your kids do things for themselves.

    Chookie has just turned 11 and apart from personal care can hoover, weed the garden (she knows what are weeds and what are plants! ), colour sort the laundry and put it on, hang out the washing, wash the car, iron her clothes, makes a mean cup of tea and can cook 2 simple meals from scratch. Her kedgeree is better than mine (she likes to tinker with the spices ) and she has nailed the onion chopping over the summer!

    1. Yes I love getting them involved with the cooking. C is pretty good at making Chinese chicken noodle soup now, and can remember what needs to go in and in what order with very little prompting. I think now that they can do things around the house I need to make it a bit more regular so that they can see that it's their responsibility and take a bit of pride in it. Perhaps rotate responsibility for the different rooms around the family... or am I just trying to lighten my housework burden?

      I'm a bit scared about when I have to teach them to iron!!!