Before H was even born, my husband and were of the opinion that we were setting out to raise an independent, self-sufficient, self-thinking, tiny human being. We felt that from day one, we would treat her as her own person. We wanted her to see the importance and value of helping out, her voice, and her choice.
Personally I am of the opinion that it is never too early to start instilling manners and self sufficient behavior in children. Now, I don’t mean to ask your 10 month old to take out the trash or wash the car, obviously. But I do mean to refrain from talking to them in “goobalee gah” voices and talking to them as you would normally. As someone who studied language acquisition, I know that babies are mimics. Of course you can “ooh” and “gah” at them from time to time, but in general, you should be speaking to them in your normal voice. From day one they watch the movements your mouth makes when it is forming letters and sounds, and in turn will be their first insight on doing it themselves. Talk to them constantly, explain to them simple things you are doing, or feelings, etc. These conversations will be the foundations of them learning and understanding. To go along with this, children can become “helpers” around the house. Expecting them to follow rules, use their words to explain their feelings (even if you don’t quite speak their language yet) are critical in shaping them into tiny, self-sufficient human beings.
From an early age, I told H to “use her words” – even when she didn’t have any. When she gets worked up, the first thing I say is “breathe”. Now that she is almost two, I have noticed her increased interest in being a little helper around the house. H LOVES sweeping the floor at my parents house, “wiping” down tables, and makes a pretty good effort at putting away her toys. Now, I’m using her interest in this and putting it towards instilling her ability and understanding of helping out. We have begun giving H the “chore” or making sure the chairs are pushed in at the kitchen table after a meal. In a few months, I may start having her help me feed our dog. Not only can it be another “chore” for her, but will help with her counting and language when we pour out his scoops of food.
Another thing that we try to do is have H help pick out her clothes. Now, since she is only 21 months old and has a fond love for the word ‘no’, we don’t let her have free reign on her closet every morning. Instead, we pick out a few pieces, and then ask her to choose between two. As she gets older, I will give her a little more freedom when it comes to selecting her clothes. By doing this, my hope is that she will develop a since of creativity self- esteem, and her self-awareness.
My hope is that by doing these things, will help shape her into an independent self-sufficient tiny and human. How do you have your LOs help you out around the house? What ways have you found help your children foster their individuality?