When is it okay for them to "fend for themselves" a bit? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 02-27-2002, 01:45 AM - Thread Starter
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My dd is just a little over five. She goes to school (kindergarten) every day and for the most part likes to do things for herself, but she also still needs a lot of help and/or supervision. Lately I've been feeling like I need to encourage her to do more on her own, but I'm not sure how to tell what she is ready for. My mom says things like, "When you kids were little, I had you doing chores by time you were her age!", but they also say I have too high expectations of her! So, I'm a little confused. They live downstairs and do a lot of child care for me, so they are the ones I talk to a lot about stuff related to dd.

Anyway, she chooses her own clothing each evening and I help her lay it out. I have to remind her sometimes to include underwear, socks and shoes. She can bathe herself under direct supervision, and we trade off on teethbrushing, because I am paranoid about her getting cavities. She does a pretty good job, but I like to make sure! When she gets up in the morning, I ask her to take care of "first things first" then she can play if there is time left. What I'd like is for her to dress herself, get some breakfast, and brush her teeth. She still needs help with her hair. She works the toaster very well, and can help herself to things like toast, frozen waffles, cheese I've gotten ready for her, yoghurt and granola, etc. She can also pour herself some juice or water. I help with stuff like eggs. She'd like to learn to use the microwave, but I'm not sure that's a good idea. I'm just afraid she will go ahead and try it anyway in one of those "quick as a wink" moments when my back is turned. I wonder if it might be better to make sure she knows how to use it correctly. I'm also nervous about the radiation.

Another thing is, I often get frustrated with her inability to stay on task. This is where I'm wondering if I'm expecting too much from her, or am I letting her "walk over me", by not being firm that she get herself ready in the mornings. Bedtimes and other things I can supervise more closely because I don't need to be getting myself ready at the same time. Do I need to continue getting up twice as early for awhile longer?

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#2 of 7 Old 02-27-2002, 04:13 AM
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I can relate to your post. I think what I've noticed since I have two dd's, 4 and 6, is that interest and movtivation in daily tasks is so dependent on personality. I think they CAN do a lot at a young age if they want to, but how much does a mother want to struggle with it if they don't want to is where I am with my 6 yr old. My 4 yr old frequently helps with the laudary, unloads the diswasher, gets dressed first thing in the morning, collects her things for preschool and packs up her pack, puts on her shoes... and on and on (all without being asked) and has done so for at least the last year and longer with some of these things. My 6 yr old has no interest in any of them. I have to ask her 50 times to get dressed in the morning and brush her teeth and put on her shoes. She just won't get her pack together or collect her stuff. And doing chores, hah, she won't do anything basically.

I try to respect their individual personalities and take what each has to offer, but I do get frustrated at times as I think she is old enough to do many more things than she does by herself and without being asked, at least so many times.

So, really, I have no advice, but do ponder the same question myself.

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#3 of 7 Old 02-27-2002, 06:11 AM
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Just a thought, I've heard that posting a reminder list, or picture list of all tasks required helps them be more independent with a lot less nagging.

My girls are still young, so have not tried this myself - but friends have and it worked for them.
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#4 of 7 Old 02-27-2002, 12:18 PM
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My kids all dressed themselves and took care of their own bathing, etc. pretty much by age 4 or 5. My oldest 2 (10 and 7) both pack their own school lunches and make breakfast or lunch if I can't for some reason or of they feel like doing it. Everyone, even the youngest (4) pitches in to set the table, load the dishwasher and clean their own rooms/make beds. Until recently, I did everything else. But, I broke my ankle recently (just got the cast off) and had to stay off my feet for 6 weeks. Instead of running dh ragged, I decided that there was really no good reason for these able-bodied children not to learn to clean a bathroom, dust, vacuum, etc. There was a wee bit of initial grumbling but they really took pride in helping out and did a decent job (I have high standards). Now that the cast is off, there is no going back...mom has gotten smart! Everyone is continuing to help out and they really do take pride in helping keep the house in shape. I laughed out loud the other day when I heard my oldest ds complaining to his brothers "Can't you guys aim better? I just cleaned the bathroom!"
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#5 of 7 Old 03-02-2002, 04:25 AM
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Your 5 year old sounds a lot like my 5 year old. Ali can get herself pretty much ready in the mornings as long as we aren't in a hurry to get some where. If we are in a hurry I have to help her stay on task. She can also pick out her clothes based on what we are going to be doing that day, which seems good to me. She can get her shoes on the right feet and fasten them as long as they don't tie. She can get herself simple things like yogurt, cold cereal, or fruit. She carries her dishes back over to the sink after I remind her too. I like spending time with her in the mornings so I am really happy with where she is.

She can also do a few simple chores around the house:

Dusting with a feather duster or a cloth that already has polish on it.

Sweeping the kitchen (she needs help to use the dust pan).

Feeding the cat.

Windexing the parts of the sliding glass door that she can reach.

Emptying the small trash cans into a big bag.

Helping with the landry by folding small things like washclothes and dish towels and putting them away.

Helping empty the dishwasher (she really likes putting the silver wear away).

I've started teaching her to set the table.

She enjoys being a real help around the house and doing some of the work. I don't force her to do anything.

My 3 year old is another story altogether -- she won't even pick up her own toys!
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#6 of 7 Old 03-03-2002, 01:16 AM
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My 5 yo can do most of the morning stuff pretty reliably. She has a very simple haircut that doesn't require "pretty's" and loves headbands so she gets some accessorizing wihtout my help. SHe can pick her clothes and get dressed. Her new thing is making breakfast for herself. She does taost with butter and cereal. We leave a small pitcher (it is actually the cream holder from our coffee set ) of milk in the fridge so she doesn't have to pour from a big jug and leave the cereal where she can reach it. So when she is motivated we can be up and ready to go by noon . She is capable of doing lots of things like picking up toys, helping unload the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, dressing her sister (she loves this) folding square things (wash cloths, diapers) matching socks and setting the table. She is rarely motivated to do most of theses things. So if I am up to the challenge we do them and if i don't feel like fighting I do them.

her sister is another story though. She is almost 2 and is ever so helpful (when she isn't being the anti-helper). She sorts the silverware, sweeps up the pile with a little broom and dustpan, empties garbages, helps set the table, picks up stuff and trows it away, constantly turns off lights, and when I am going to the bathroom she will get me a clean pad (her newest obsession), hand me toilet paper, flush when i am done and close the lid. She will turn on the water in the sink then turn ff the light and shut the door on the way out. (it is amazing that a child so into bathroom stuff would refuse to go on the freaking potty). She also picks up toys and makes beds. i don't where she got these genes from but I am loving this.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#7 of 7 Old 03-04-2002, 12:13 AM
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When my 5 year old does her own hair she puts every accessory she owns in it -- 2 hair bands, a few barrets, a pony tail holder. I don't understand how she gets it all to stay at the same time.

My 3 1/2 year old is amazing unhelpful. She doesn't seem interested in what I'm doing the way her sister was at the same age, and she considers helping pick up the toys a form of torture.
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