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‘Give Them Chores’: Plus 9 Other Tips To Raise Independent Preschoolers

Here’s how to step back and give your child a chance to self-sufficiency.
PHOTO BYcotton bro studio / pexels

Human instinct tells parents to be the ultimate protector and caregiver for our young. To some extent, we are so concerned that our children would get hurt or even fail, we end up doing everything for them.

Over time, however, we have also adopted some philosophies allowing our children take a taste of independence. The Montessori method for example believes that independence begins in infancy by setting up routines, providing choices, and scaffolding infantile tasks. We’ve also seen advocates of baby-led weaning or allowing the child to feed himself solid food and decide for himself if he’s consumed enough.

Japan has its own take on early childhood independence, too. In daycare and Kindergarten (hoikuen and youchien), kids focus on play, life skills, and experience. Their early childhood education trains their children to be brave, disciplined, and independent where parents are not allowed to accompany their children at school and children as early as three years old are taught to empty the contents of their bags and place their things on respective places. They are expected to remove their own shoes and place them on the shoe rack, use enough tissue and water, flush the toilet, and turn off the light switch when not in use. They eat lunch on their own, maintain cleanliness, and dispose trash in its proper place. 

Not to parent shame anybody—as nobody can really prepare us for parenting, plus it’s always a balancing act between doing what we think is best and ensuring our kids’ comfort—but if you’re looking how to teach your little ones to be independent, here’s a guide.  

10 tips to raise independent preschoolers

1. Give them chores.

Children as young as five can already help in sweeping floors, feeding the pets or making their own bed. The output may not be as polished but giving them responsibility at an early age boosts their confidence and self-value.

Age appropriate household chores for your preschoolers

  • Sweep floors
  • Make the bed
  • Clean own room
  • Hang the towel
  • Feed pets
  • Set the table
  • Help clear the dishes after a meal

Related Read: The Benefits of Involving Your Preschooler in Household Chores

2. Set up a routine.

Kids work well with routine because repetitive tasks create a safe space as they are able to predict what happens next. Through time, it will help them become independent because they know exactly what to do and where they need to be. 

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3. Do not be quick in doing things for them.

Let your kids work and play independently. Even if sometimes they look like they’re having trouble completing a task or making sense of a process—no matter how trivial—learn to step back and give them a chance to figure things out on their own.

'Twisting a bottle cap back should be easy so why is it taking too much time for your child to do' is not a valid reason to intervene right away.

Providing assistance like giving clues or advice how they can deal with the problem is much more effective than physically removing the task from their hands. 

4. Allow them to make mistakes.

Once in a while, let your child fail. Allow them to make mistakes. If your child has not made a mistake nor fail at some point, it will be difficult for him/her to deal with negative experiences on his/her own. If they don’t suffer consequences from their actions, they will not be very mindful of their decisions.

5. Make them choose but not demand.

Allowing your child to have choices propel them to have decision-making skills. For example, which chore they would like to do first, which color of shirt they’d like to wear for today, which music they’d like to listen to while arranging the toy pile—giving them options and asking them to decide provide them a sense of control.

However, always remember to pick your battles. You should primarily be okay with the choices you are giving your little ones. 

6. Let them solve problems.

As parents, we might fall for the trap of being highly critical.

“Wag ganyan,” “Mali yan!” or “Ano bang ginagawa mo?”

If we are too keen on perfection, kids get easily discouraged and become adamant to keep trying. The key to resilience is the ability to persevere so let your child go through the process, try and test their juvenile methods, and solve problems on their own. Little by little, your kids will rely on you a little less since they are feeling competent in managing their situation. 

7. Practice negotiation and compromise.

We love our kids so much we’d like to give them everything that heals our inner child. It could backfire though because they will probably get a negative sense of entitlement. In this regard, we can practice negotiation and compromise to set the expectations and help them self-regulate. 

For example, if your child is not in the mood to tidy up, you can negotiate which ones they’d be happy to do first and which ones they’d need your help. You can also compromise which tasks are priority so the other ones can be handled the next day. 

Read Also: 4 Tips to Get Your Preschooler Involved in Household Chores

8. Make them fill the "big kid" role.

To emphasize their responsibility, you can make them fill the big kid role like,

“You’re a big girl now, I bet you can brush your teeth now on your own!”

“You’re a big boy now, I am sure you can put those shoes on real quick!”

9. Let them volunteer and help.

And since we want our kids’ comfort and convenience, we sometimes shut them down if they want to help. “Kaya ko na ‘to anak, maglaro ka na lang.” 

Allowing them to help us and volunteer for tasks give them a sense of accomplishment and value. 

10. Let them be bored.

Allow your kids to entertain themselves when they are bored. It fosters creativity, innovation, and self-reliance. Kids will learn to make the most of what they have. 

RELATED: Do Nothing When Your Child Is Bored. It's Good for His Brain

Strong sense of self-belief

Giving our children an opportunity to rely on themselves will aid them to have a strong sense of self-belief that they can do whatever they set their minds into.

It may look mundane now to ask them to put their toys away, or get dressed for bed, or return the things where they got them, but these small things will translate into bigger things as they grow older. 

Sources: VeryWellFamily, Little Sunshine, A touch of homeschooling

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