Fostering Independence In Kids


Fostering Independence In Kids

I am now what I would call, an inexperienced mom with many years under my belt.  Many being seven so not really many at all, but it feels like I should be better at this. I can see clearly now that I will never be experienced because not one child has the same problem for longer than a second so just as I have something figured out some other issue hits us from left field and I am back to muddling through.

It can be very discouraging. I would really like someone to congratulate me on my problem solving skills, I envision a trophy and cheers shouting ‘mom, mom, mom’ maybe one of them could hold me up on their shoulders. Confetti. Nothing big or anything but just a show of support for the hours I logged on the interweb, talking with friends and professionals, chasing answers.

This is what I do, I am an answer chaser. I know these answers matter, because if I don’t have them, I hear about it day and night until they are solved.  But as soon as they are solved it is like the problem never existed at all.

I am an advocate of fostering independence and self-sufficiency because frankly, with three of them I don’t think I can keep up this pace for much longer. Encouraging them to solve their own problems and take responsibility for themselves (within reason) is all part of my master plan. Plus it is probably good for their confidence. I read that somewhere.

I realized last week that I need to perhaps take two steps back on the independence action plan as my daughter nearly blew up our house.  She is five.

I have noticed that my 6 year old son has been looking for ways to become more independent and while I joke, I believe it is important for kids to take on as much age appropriate independence as they can handle, which is probably more than we give them credit for.  So among other things he does around the house, he often makes his own food and snacks and uses the microwave to do some of this.  All fine, no issues.

My daughter has also taken to heating up food in the microwave. I tell her how much time to punch in and I take it out.  Fine, no issues there.

The other night Eddie and I were watching American Hustle and there is a scene where Jennifer Lawrence puts metal in the microwave and it explodes and catches fire.  I made a mental note to tell my daughter that metal cannot go in the microwave. I had given the run down to my son but neglected to tell my daughter because I was always there with her. Do you see where this is going?

The VERY NEXT DAY I’m sitting at my desk and she comes in bawling and wailing about how it wasn’t fair, sob sob sob. I could not understand a word she was saying. We went into the kitchen where I found a smoking microwave and a melted plastic milkshake cup with oreo milkshake leaking out of it.

They brought home milkshakes in plastic cups from a restaurant the night before and didn’t finish them so put them in the freezer overnight with metal kitchen spoons in them. They were too cold to eat so why not throw it all in the microwave for 1,3,5, start?

A minute and thirty five seconds later and we were lucky our kitchen didn’t catch on fire.  I laughed while she cried.  I felt bad, but the timing of it all struck me as really funny.

So I will aim for independence while trying to keep our house and the kids intact. This is a lofty goal, but one that will be worth it in the long run, fingers crossed.

The trophy can be small, I would be okay with that.

Are your kids longing for independence?  What kinds of things do you have them doing around the house?  Have any of them gone awry? I would love to hear your stories.




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