BES Blog

Fostering Independence and Self-Advocacy

Now is the time to develop essential life skills in a safe and secure environment: your own home!

While everyone else is adjusting to online learning and panicking over lost classroom time, you have a great opportunity as a parent to find the silver lining in being home with your children 24/7. What could possibly be the silver lining, you ask?

If your child has not learned essential life skills, such as doing laundry, cooking a meal, or cleaning his/her room, what better time than now to work on those skills? Whether your children are in elementary, middle, or high school, there are skills to be learned that will benefit them (and you) at every stage of their development. In fact, the earlier they start, the greater the benefit will be over the long term. When children are taught self-reliance, they tend to develop stronger self-esteem and self-confidence. Think about how proud a 6-year old feels when she masters tying her shoes! She can’t wait to get up the next morning and tie them again. What happens if you go back to tying her shoes the next day because it takes her too long? She gets the message that she is not capable of taking care of herself. However, if she is expected to tie them herself when she gets dressed the next morning and every morning after that, she will be internally motivated to continue and will find satisfaction in conquering other tasks as well. Being able to count on themselves helps children gain a sense of control in their lives and helps them make decisions.

If you have a middle school aged child, now is a good time to teach him how to make some simple foods that he can cook by himself. Learning to boil water and cook pasta or scramble some eggs in a frying pan are important skills needed for daily living. Imagine the pride your child will feel in his ability to cook breakfast or dinner for his family. Of course, learning to clean up afterwards in another important skill that needs to be acquired.

Children at any age can help with the laundry. Being at home means that a load of laundry can be washed, dried, folded, and put away all in the same day! Your children can share the responsibility at first until they all know how to do their own laundry. One less chore for mom and dad and your children are on their way towards self-reliance.

Developing these essential life skills throughout childhood and the teenage years lays a strong foundation for a lifetime of self-reliance, a necessary component of becoming an independent young adult. The more your children learn to do independently, the greater likelihood of their achieving success after high school.

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Judy Bass/April 15, 2020

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