Helping your child to learn how to take control of himself is one of the most challenging parts of being a parent. We all want to be able to go about our normal lives knowing that we can trust our child to behave and cope with different social situations.
You can create the circumstances for your child to develop self-discipline by following three simple steps:
Create an environment that fosters self-discipline
Connect your child to the life going on around her through involving her in practical activities and offering her choices.
Make time for your child to be involved in activities around the home, whilst working at her own pace and respect her work and play choices.
You may not relish doing the cleaning or washing the dishes but young children love to do these things. Getting involved in the life of the home helps them to start to feel part of the family and become aware that they are responsible for their actions.
Offering Activities around the Home
You may not relish doing the cleaning or washing the dishes but young children love to do these things. Getting involved in the life of the home helps them to start to feel part of the family and being part of the family sets them on a path where they start to become aware that they are responsible for their actions.
Create an environment with activities that appeal to your child.
Your child loves doing the things that you do. This helps her to understand the routines and ways of the life she is becoming a part of. This makes her feel secure and happy and because she is more connected to life she starts to become aware of the consequences of the things that she does.
Activities that your child will enjoy doing center around two things. The first involves looking after herself because this makes her feel more independent. The second is related to looking after the home and its surroundings.
By getting involved in these activities she starts to understand how that your family works by co-operating and working together. The sort of things your child loves to do include:
- Dusting, sweeping, mopping, polishing, washing, and cleaning
- Folding up and putting away clothes and hanging clothes to dry
- Preparing food, making bread, setting the table, washing and drying dishes
- Gardening, sweeping paths, watering plants, weeding and raking leaves
- Caring for pets by filling food and water bowls
- Shopping, carrying, putting away food and organizing cupboards
In order to make it possible for your child to do these things around the home it will be necessary to make things accessible to her. In order to do this you will need to:
- Provide child-sized utensils—brushes, brooms, cloths, bowls, mops etc.
- Place these in a cupboard that is low enough for your child to access for himself with doors that he can easily open.
- Provide a sturdy but light stool that your child can put in places that will give him access to the work surfaces that he would not be able to reach otherwise.
Show her how to do these activities
You can show your young child how to do many things around the home if you bear a few things in mind.
- Demonstrate slowly when showing how to do something
- Make sure that you follow a clear sequence
- Do not talk while you are showing your child what to do
- Tell your child you are going to show him how to do something and then show it but don’t do both at the same time so that your child can either watch your hands or listen to your voice, but is not expected to do both at the same time
- Use eye contact and a smile between steps to help your child stay engaged
- Let your child try for himself
- To start with you may need to help a little and collaborate in the activity but you should aim to do as little as possible
- Gradually withdraw your help so that your child finds himself doing it all by himself.
- Your child will not work in the same way that you do of course. Some things will take her much longer because she is not focused on getting the job finished as you are. She is more interested in being immersed in the processes. In fact, the end result may be messier than when she began, with soap and water on the floor. The process is far more important to her inner growth than having clean floors.
- Making time for your child to continue with the things she is interested in doing can be difficult at times but it is essential for her development. We all need time to focus on something, uninterrupted, if we are going to perfect it and this is no different for small children. When young children are allowed to carry out the things they are interested in doing with their hands they gradually gain control over their bodies. Being in control of their bodies helps them to start to be in control of their behavior too.
Learn more at www.aidtolife.org.