"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fostering Independence

When you first find out your pregnant, you find yourself bombarded with well meaning advice over the best way to feed your baby, sleep train your baby, wean your baby, swaddle your baby.  You name it.  People have an opinion on it.  You start out seriously considering all these pearls of wisdom.  Then you realize you are sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  You enter survival mode, which seems scary.  But the good thing is you emerge from that 'trauma' knowing yourself as a parent.  You learn which pieces of advice work for you and which don't.  Opinions of others lose their importance because you realize you actually know what's best for your child.  And you start to see yourself as a parent.  Maybe not the parent you thought you'd be.  Maybe not the parent 'that book' says you should be.  Maybe not the parent you had.  But you find your own parent identity.  With that identity, comes peace.

For me that identity has emerged in two ways- neither of which I expected.  For one thing, it turned out, I was an attachment/extended nursing/cosleeping/baby wearing kind of parent.  It worked.  Now that I am in full fledged toddlerdom/preschoolhood, I am seeing myself as another type of parent.  I push my child's independence.  Never in my life would I have expected that.  Especially coming from the attachment wing of baby raising.  As it turns out though, my life is busy.  I just don't have time to do every single thing Jude asks me.  Without really thinking about it, almost as an impulse response really, that has been used to turn him into the most independent 3 year old.

He can get his own snacks.  He can get his own drinks.  He gets himself dressed.  He puts his clothes in the dirty clothes.  He brushes his teeth in the mornings.  He puts on his own shoes.  He throws his trash away.  He puts his dishes in the sink.  He makes his bed.  He puts on his seat belt.  He opens his door.  He cleans his own bloody nose (gross I know but he did it and stopped it himself).  I could go on.  Honestly though, he does a TON of stuff on his own.  He doesn't do it perfectly all the time (although a lot of the time he does).

I just simply let him try.  If I can't hop to it, I just tell him what to do.  He tries.  Most of the time he figures it out or comes close to figuring it out.  And man is he proud when he does.  He is incredibly confident in his own abilities simply because I have him try.  He doesn't cry about now being able to (unless he really, truly can't).  He doesn't 'but mama' me.  He doesn't whine or baby talk.  He just takes care of business.  And he does that because I simply don't do it for him.

I'm not saying that this is THE way to raise independence.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't coddle younger children more.  What I am saying, is that if you choose to offer the chance to let your kid do it themselves, they will probably surprise you by just how capable they really are.  And now that Jude has gotten so used to doing so much on his own, he just rises to the occasion himself.  He takes the initiative without me 'you try first'.  He blows me away daily with the things he decides to do himself, and he does them pretty well!

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