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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i was inspired by a poster on another thread who described her three year old making his own sandwich (i.e. getting out the stuff from the fridg and also putting it together) if he decides he wants a snack. pretty cool, but it got me wondering about ways to give my oldest son more control over his daily needs and activities. i'm not talking about "making" him do more for himself but setting things up so that he can feel capable. so-- what does your kid do for him/herself? what kinds of things do you think an almost 3 1/2 yr. old should be able to do with minimal assistance? how have you set up your home to encourage autonomy and responsibility in your own family?
 

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I took my son to a preschool for a brief try-out (I decided he wasn't ready!), but what really was amazing to me was how much these kids were doing by themselves. There were only 6 kids in the class, and the school really focuses on independence, but not in the way you might think. What I saw was how proud these kids were to be doing things on their own. They would pull their own chairs out, get water from a small pitcher on the table. They sat down until the snack came, they ate, and then put their plates away and pushed in their chairs.

What I came away with is the sense of pride they feel when they are competent at doing things for themselves. So I vowed to find things in our life that I could modify so that my son could handle the task and feel good about doing it. Giving him something too big would only frustrate him, and that is definitely not the goal!! So now he sits at the table and puts his hands on his lap to show me he's ready to eat, and when he's done he puts his plate on the counter. He's actually beaming when he does this. Sometimes he's not in the mood, and that's ok! I've made an effort to organize toys so that everything has a place and he can actually put things away. He takes all of his clothes off and puts them in a hamper. He washes himself in the tub, and he makes his bed (kind of!)

None of this is really necessary, but he seems to really feel good about himself. The other part of it that is beneficial is it helps to set up routines, which my son really thrives on--by that I mean we use them to aid in transitions--when it's time to eat, get up, clean up...etc.

I don't think he's ready to make a sandwich--although I do let him try. I think the key is to really find things they do entirely on their own.

Hope this helps!
Carrie & Boden (8-19-03)
 

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DD can get dressed from head to bottom...but she can't do her shoes. Part of that is b/c she almost never has them on to even practice. she can alos pour her own water and get it out of the fridge. This is something she jsut recently started and she is VERY proud of it. I am juststarting to look for more things she can do on her won also so I will look for suggestions in here as well.
 

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My son is 3.5 and he can make a sandwich, get a piece of fruit from the counter and wash it, or get out some other snack. If something needs to be cut he will get out a plate and knife and ask me to cut it. He puts his dishes into the dishwasher and helps me unload the clean dishes (he puts the silverware away). He can wipe off the counters and table. He sets the table. He can pour drinks. He can use a chair to reach the high cabinets. He can pick up his own toys but rarely does- he's always "still playing with them!" He can dress and undress himself and put his dirty clothes in the hamper. He can use the bathroom by himself, flush, and wash his hands. He gives the kitty food and water a couple times a day, and has changed the litter before (but we told him we'd do it from then on, thanks). He helps put dirty clothes and diapers in the washer (even unstuffing fuzzi bunz). He can make the bed.
Wow, I didn't realize how much he could do until now!
 

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My youngest is 2yrs8mos old, so she is a little younger than the dc mentioned here. I am constantly amazed at what all she does for herself.

She gets herself undressed & dressed.
She helps herself to snacks--I keep them on a lower counter in the pantry.
She gets her own toothbrush ready & brushes her teeth herself.
Gets her potty seat ready on the big potty.
Washes herself in the tub--I do the water, get her in & out, give her soap.
Carries her plate into the kitchen after eating.
Puts the clean silverware away.
Helps put groceries away.
Sorts my coupons.
Blows me away, everyday!
 

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my two year old can get dressed partially. she puts on and can do velcro buckles on her sandals and can put on her own sneakers. She chooses her bowls, cups, spoons from our pantry and her own snacks. She gets a cup and then opens the fridge and fills it with water from our brita (we have one iwth a spigot that she just pulls). She gets her toothbrush out and does her own teeth ( I brush them too). She picks out what she is going to wear, even sometimes in the stores.. picks out her own shoes too.
she can feed the cats with the scoop from the cat food bin.
she can clean up her toys, although she doesnt often do it unless i do it with her.
she opens the door and gets herself into the car and her carseat unassisted.
she can turn on the tv

picks out her stories and jammies for bedtime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
o.k., i'm impressed! i mean, my son is really bright (we all say this, don't we?
) and has always been verbally and physically advanced but after reading your posts i'm thinking i've been doing way too much for him! i totally agree that kids love to feel good about themselves by learning new skillsand i hate to think that i'm robbing my son of this just because i'm on auto-pilot sometimes and just go get him the drink or wash him in the tub because we're talking about something else or for some reason in a hurry. usually i'm tending to the younger one and it's just easier to getr the cup and plate out myself. i know this is a little backwards and it would be easier to have a more independant child. it's weird when you consider yourself to be a pretty aware and thoughtful parent and then you realize you have a big blind spot like this.
 

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My views on this stuff lean toward the CC (continuum concept; Leidloff) side of things, in that I always expected and encouraged my kids to do all sorts of "grown up" things for themselves from as early an age as they could do. My 18 month-old can load his dishes in the dishwasher, is actually a pretty good dust-buster-er, helps me do laundry, etc. My 4 year olds set the table, clear the dishes and load the dishwasher, make PB&Js for their school lunches, fold laundry, sweep and vacuum, choose their clothes and get dressed, put their dirty clothes in the hamper, water plants, and probably a lot of other things I am not remembering.

I also expect them to be responsible for their baby brother (18 mos.), not to the point where I am not paying attention to him obvioulsy, but I do expect them to remember things like he doesn't drink cow's milk yet so keep their milk away from him or to keep small objects away from him or to come to the bottom of the (carpeted) cellar stairs when he's heading down to the playroom. They are extremely good about it to the point where it kind of shocks me. I still don't let my guard down but -- and please don't flame me for saying this as I'm only half serious -- I think I could probably leave ds in their care for an hour and he would be absolutely fine, even given water and something to eat when he's hungry. NO I would never do it in a million years, but more because of our society's taboos about leaving young children alone, than because of a deficiency in their skills. And as far as the latter goes, I think within 1-2 years they truly would be up for the task, skills wise.

I will go out on a limb and say I think a lot of parents do not expect ENOUGH of their young children. In my experience, young kids are eager to participate in the adult world around them and have a strong ability to do lots of actually helpful things. What is a shame is when parents take adult chores and turn them into games... like giving a child a play vaccum or letting a child play at a sink pretending to wash dishes. If they can push a pretend vaccum across the floor or stand at a sink for 10 minutes "washing" plastic dishes, they can do the real thing, which is infinitely more rewarding for them, as believe me, they know the difference, not to mention being helpful to mom. Little LITTLE children have MAJOR responsibilities for childcare and housekeeping in some other cultures, and I do sometimes wonder if we are doing ourselves and our children a disservice by not including little ones more in the day to day implementation of our responsibilities.

I think the one thing I am not very good at having the kids do consistently is clean up their toys because it is SO much easier for me to whip them into the toy basket in 2 seconds than spend 15 minutes cleaning with them, kwim? I'm trying to be better about setting expectations there (for all of us lol!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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o.k., i'm used to feeling a little out of control and, especially at MDC, feeling like you moms have it goin on a lot more than i do, but now i really have to ask---- how in the hell do you guys do all this??? i mean maybe i should post this as a whole new thread but i mean getting your 18 mo old to help with the laundry as your three yr. old makes a sandwich and you were up nursing eight times last night and you carry your baby around tons during the day--- am i just feeling older than my 40 yrs. or is there something i'm missing? believe me, i'm a co-sleeping, tandem nursing, baby-wearing mom and all that but i just don't have the time to scrape peanut butter off the walls all day and have my 18 mo. old load the dishwasherafter pouring a box of otios into the recycling bin . i'm not judging anyone but myself here, really, i'm in awe, but what am i doing wrong? are these dust-busting toddlers the same ones that snack on tofu chunks and steamed beets? i'm feeling like an AP wannabe loser.
 

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My dd is 3 years, 2 months...here are some things she can do for herself:

She can get a drink of water. We have a water dispenser in the door of the fridge. I leave plastic cups out on the counter for this purpose.

She can bring me a clean pair of panties when she has an accident. She also gets me a pull-up when she thinks she's tired (no pull-up, no night time nurse)

She feeds the dog when prompted. She can not get the dog water though...I don't know why! The food and water dish are side by side. She can get HERSELF water. She won't give the dog water. Only food!

She can climb into her car seat when we're going out, but she can not do the buckles.

She can open the fridge and get a bowl of grapes or strawberries or whatever is cut up and washed and placed in a bowl on the bottom shelf. She can NOT make herself a sandwich! She also helps herself to frozen popsicles but can not take the wrapper off.

She can bring me a book to read to her.

She can find me if she wakes up and I am not in bed.

I think all this stuff is pretty great. She's not able to read or clean ANYTHING or bathe herself or dress herself, though she does have preferences about what I dress her in. The only housework she does is of the kind where she's making work for me, lol. She certainly isn't eating beets or tofu for snacks either!
 

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I agree with Periwinkle. The more you allow them to do in a rather controlled environment, the better. I've mentioned what our 2yo does, but here is what our 5 & 8yo do:

5yo:
makes his bed
cleans up after himself
collects the garbage from around the house and puts it in the main garbage
sets/clears the table on his days
loads/unloads dw on his days
sorts/folds/puts away laundry
washes/dresses/toilets himself
gets himself in/out of carseat & car
helps grocery shop
helps watch 2yo
among other things I probably missed

8yo:
sets/clears table on her days
loads/unloads dw on her days
cleans up after herself
does her own laundry
makes/changes her bedsheets
helps watch her brother/sister
helps with various other things when needed
She has also made dinner 2x a month for the past couple of months--I talk her through it to teach her how to cook.
 

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My son will be 4 this week.
He dresses himself, including socks and shoes
Picks out own clothes, forget about me helping here..
Puts clothes in the hamper
"Folds" clothes (using this term loosely, lol) and puts them in his drawer
Can make a sandwich (we have a freezer on bottom fridge so I have to get stuff out for him)
Uses bathroom by himself, only needs help wiping his bum and snapping jeans
Throws away trash (favorite pastime!)
Clean up toys (with help and encouragment from me)
Washes self in bath (I still do his hair)
He has his art supplies on a cart in the kitchen and he gets them out and puts them away on his own
Helps grocery shop and put groceries away in cabinets
Can get himself a drink of water and a snack from the cabinet
 

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These are somethings I can remember off hand:

My son is almost four, but has been doing these things for a year or more:

~Pours milk (he has always been very careful with drinking, so I passed on the pouring to him. We would have tea parties (since he was 2 or so) and he would pour "tea" from the little tea pot into the little tea cup)
~Helps himself to water.
~Flushes and turns out the light.
~Can set the table - with linen napkins et al (I guess he has observed me doing it enough, that he knew how it was done!)
~Clears his plate.
~Picks out his clothes or if he doesn't have an opinion he says I can do it

~Gets dressed- but he doesn't always like to do this -
~Gets himself buckled in his carseat harness
~Helps bake - cracks the eggs, pours the ingredients, uses the measuring spoons. Uses the egg beater (this is his favourite contribution)
~He is quite tidy/orderly, cleans up his toys
~Likes to vacuum
~Can put his movie on pause and go to the bathroom or get a drink
~When undresses, he puts his dirty laundry (always socks and undies) in his hamper and will fold his shirt and put back into the drawer (he will ask me if it is clean or dirty first). He learned folding at his pre-school, I was impressed when he did this and he folds with a lot of pride!
~He can make and likes to make his own sandwich - spread cream cheese (whipped cream cheese - easy for spreading) on bagel and add ham.
~His pre-school also encourages such independence - pushing in chairs after lunch or snack, folding tea towels, wiping up after a spill. Preparing snack (slicing apples, cutting carrots, using the nutcracker for walnuts)
 

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Quote:
o.k., i'm used to feeling a little out of control and, especially at MDC, feeling like you moms have it goin on a lot more than i do, but now i really have to ask---- how in the hell do you guys do all this??? i mean maybe i should post this as a whole new thread but i mean getting your 18 mo old to help with the laundry as your three yr. old makes a sandwich and you were up nursing eight times last night and you carry your baby around tons during the day--- am i just feeling older than my 40 yrs. or is there something i'm missing? believe me, i'm a co-sleeping, tandem nursing, baby-wearing mom and all that but i just don't have the time to scrape peanut butter off the walls all day and have my 18 mo. old load the dishwasherafter pouring a box of otios into the recycling bin . i'm not judging anyone but myself here, really, i'm in awe, but what am i doing wrong? are these dust-busting toddlers the same ones that snack on tofu chunks and steamed beets? i'm feeling like an AP wannabe loser.
:

Maybe some of you could tell us how your dc got to this point? Did they decide that they wanted to do these things all on their own and you just let them?

Mine do a few things (dd likes to wash dishes and pour her own water or milk) but there are a lot of things (making her bed, cleaning up after herself) that she just doesn't want to do and it would turn into a battle if I pushed her at all.
 

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DS does a lot of the things mentioned. He just wanted to do them. He started liking to help with laundry when he was very young, about 18 months, so now everytime I go to do laundry I ask if he wants to help. About half the time he does. I don't push it if he doesn't. That's just one example.

BUT the one thing he has NO interest in doing is dressing himself. He will put his shoes on and off sometimes, if he feels like it. But putting a shirt or pants on? Forget it! He is quite happy for us to do it and we have never minded so we just do it and figure he will eventually want to dress himself. Sometimes he will pick out clothes for himself, if we tell him to say go get a pair of socks to go out (he is always barefoot at home). But usually he has no interest in picking out his clothes, except to sometimes say he doesn't like a certain shirt.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mommy65
: <snip> i'm feeling like an AP wannabe loser.
Can I join the loser club?
: Actually, I think a lot of it is temperament and some of it is fine motor skills. Our son has got a bit of a fine motor delay, and frankly, likes to be waited on. Our dd (2) does a lot more for herself than he ever THOUGHT about at that age!

At age 3 1/2 our son could BARELY undress himself, was MILES away from being able to DRESS himself. He was newly potty trained. He could pour water from a small pitcher for himself and get his own place setting out for lunch/dinner.

Fast forward 1 1/2 years -- ds can undress himself and dress himself, BUT he still likes us to be in the room. He won't wipe his own bottom (oh man am I so READY to be done with that!). He's never made a sandwich in his life. He will, under duress, bring his plate into the kitchen after meals. He does like to help with the laundry (putting things in and out of the machines), and he's a nut about recycling and garbage, and will most weeks help us take it out to the curb and help empty the trash cans from the house.

He still cannot buckle himself in his carseat. I often have to remind him that he CAN unbuckle himself.

OK, he's 5 and this is what he can do:
-undress and dress himself (has newly learned to put socks on, hallelujah!)
-pour water (he doesn't drink milk, so it's a moot point) from a pitcher that I bought when he was 3 and I was tired of getting up every 30 seconds to get him water (and I was nursing!))
-set the table (if he feels like it)
-put his dishes in the sink
-clean up with some supervision
-help load and unload laundry, put laundry away (as long as we're playing the laundry delivery 'game') -- but it's never folded when it's in the drawers
-can get water from the sink, washes his hands, fills up his own water bottle/spray bottle that he plays with
-Help me cook (crack eggs, mix stuff, cut out cookies/roll them into balls - though that's really just an excuse to eat the dough!)
-get snacks that are accessible to him

Here's what he can't (won't?) do:
-Wipe himself after a bowel movement
-Tie shoes
-buckle his seat belt in the car
-pick up without being reminded and helped
-make a bed (though to be fair, we never make ours

-make his own lunch
 

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With my dc, a lot of it has been that they want to help. It starts off as play and then they realized that they did something really big! I also remembered that my 5yo vacuums & sweeps and my 2yo dusts. They do a really good job and while it is not "perfect" that is how it stays. I would hate to discourage them by redoing their work. They are so proud of being able to do stuff!
 

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Wow, reading all these, I realize I suck!
When I think about it, I realize I'm way more worried about the mess I'll have to clean up than I am about my DD learning new skills. Shame on me
I'm also paranoid and forever telling her to "get down off that chair!" Are you all not completely terrified that they'll fall and get hurt when they're climbing around on their own like that? Of course, my DD has already had a broken arm from climbing an ottoman and a broken collarbone from "swimming like a sloth" on a hardwood floor and slipping, so that may contribute to my fear! My almost 4 year old (
when did THAT happen?) can do the following:

Pick out her own clothes and dress herself, but refuses to even attempt shoes and socks
Get her own drink of water
Help set the table
Buckle herself into her convertible carseat almost entirely, and into her booster seat, but not out (which is fine with me)
Clear her dishes to the sink
Clean up with some supervision, but resists this very strongly
Help load and unload laundry, put her own already folded laundry away (not always in the right drawers though)
Go to the potty, wipe herself, close the lid, flush, wash hands (when inclined, it's not a big thing for us), and turn the light on and off
Help me cook to a degree (her fine motor skills are not great, but that's probably because I don't let her do much because of the mess)
Get snacks that are accessible to her, though I may have to open them
Use our light stick vac to vacuum in the kitchen (though the novelty wears off that quickly
)

And other stuff too, I'm sure. But reading all this has made me realize that she keeps asking to do other stuff herself and I always manage to prevent her from doing it. I'm going to cut that out!
 

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You know, I have a friend who one day was completely fed up with her then five yo twins and she said to me "do you ever feel like you have to serve them hand and foot?" And I replied "no, because I encourage my kids to do as much for themselves and the family as they are capable of doing." And it's true, I do. My parents were AP parents in the late seventies, when hardly anyone was doing this kind of thing. And they really ran our household with a commune type attitude. Everyone does what they can to help the household run smoothly. And DH and I really use that same attitude in our house. All the kids are expected to help and do things on their own. To me it helps them realize that their choices reflect on the whole household. It also gives them a sense of responsibility and an immense sense of pride.

the four and three yo can:
clear their places at the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher
help unload the dishwasher
clean up their toys at the end of the day
fold some of the laundry
fold their own clean clothes and put them away
pick up the floor for vaccuming time
get their own snacks and ice water (we put the cups down where they can reach them easily)
make their own pbj sandwiches
brush their teeth
do all potty stuff by themselves
help me cook
dust (I just give them the dust rag and they do it!)
get dressed and undressed and put their clothes in the hamper
wash hands
wipe their own faces
buckle themselves into the car seat (3yo can't unbuckle all the way, but we're working on it)

the baby can (with some guidance)
put her dirty clothes in the hamper
put away her clean clothes (one piece at a time)
help with evening clean up
wipe her face

To me these things (though not all convienient or fun for me because tasks I could complete in minutes sometimes take much longer) really help the kids to grow and learn responsibility. Plus, it helps me feel slightly more sane!
 

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My oldest when she was 2 could get yogurt from the fridge and dish it into bowels for her and her sister when they where hungry when I was preggo and sick. She is very self sufficient


My kids now at the ages of 6, 4 and 21 months can do all sorts of thing when they feel like it


My oldest collects eggs, feeds the chickens, waters the rabbit and feeds him. She also brushes her donkey gets the bridle on and get the saddle already for me to cinch up, and irons napkins she also crosses the road to get the mail She gets simple foods ready to eat when she hungry

my 4 yo dresses herself, sets the table, puts laundry away, she is rather klutzy so we keep her way from anything breakable for sharp. She also crosses the road to get the mail. They employ proper road crossing manners
She finds leftover in the fridge and dishes them out when she want a snack

my 21 month old carries her dirty dishes to the kitchen, lets the dogs out when they want out, vacuums, and lots of simple chores.

They are right now suppose to be cleaning their room before daddy gets home to take them to the river. I am afraid the river isn't going to happen today.

When I was a child I was allowed to do sooooo much. It makes me realize my kids arent very capable. I loved my childhood
 
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