What Works For Me 4/365 Doing It for Themselves

Sisters Brothers are doing it for themselves.

My push for the boys to have a bit more independence began in earnest in November.  The thing that really spurred me on what was when we were in a shopping centre before Christmas and I gave the boys some money so they could go off and buy a present for myself and Anthony. Eric immediately told me that people under 18 were not allowed to go up to shop counters.  We discussed how this was not the case and they set off happily while I sat in the food court with a coffee and my phone. Eric had his phone too.  20 minutes later they were back, beaming like a pair of Cheshire Cats and bearing a very large Target bag.  They had explained their whole mission to a wonderful cashier at Target who really took good care of them, putting my present in a black bag so that I wouldn’t see it and reassuring the boys that they were doing a great job. Top marks to Target!

Since then some other baby steps have been:

handling the electronic check-out of library books without me standing with them

going across a road to buy themselves sausage rolls at the bakery

walking 5 mins home from our local supermarket (instead of doing small grocery shop with me)

ringing their friend’s houses to arrange play dates and the like

Paying cash for some items while shopping and returning with change

On the home front they are really improving with:

feeding Vera

dealing with Vera “souvenirs”

loading and unloading dishwasher

cutting up things needed for dinner (especially mushrooms in the case of Daniel)

starting a load of washing

hanging out washing (Eric)

baking (Eric)

tying a knot in the gar bag before taking it downstairs (Eric)

bagging up empty toilet rolls and putting now rolls on holder (Daniel)

I have no doubt people reading this will look at some items and think to themselves, “They couldn’t do that yet?”  But we are all different.  As I often used to say to parents back in my days as  Year 2 teacher, “They all learned to walk and talk at different times so it stands to reason that they will learn other things at a different times too.”

I love the way their confidence blossoms as a result of taking on challenges and succeeding and the way in which they have had to solve problems and have managed to do so often even if it means discussing options with another grown-up.  Their most recent crisis was a yesterday when the bakery had run out of sausage rolls and they had to choose something else.

And please know that they are safe.  We have endlessly discussed a range of situations that may crop up and the things they would do.  If we are in a familiar place I negotiate a time with them to meet me and Eric has his phone.  If it is an unfamiliar location I might allow them to go to a counter or similar but keep them in my line of sight.

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4 Comments on “What Works For Me 4/365 Doing It for Themselves”

  1. harrietarcher says:

    We’ve been letting H order drinks etc by himself when we’re out since he was tall enough to be seen over the counter – it helped that we’d been going to the same pub since he was born, and the publican knew his name and his drink of choice; but because he could order a lemon cordial at the pub, he had the confidence to extend it to other things.

    We’re still a bit leery about letting the boys do a few things – but when we went camping {shudder} the kids went off to the shop by themselves, and I think for an entire day, I was never 100% sure where they were!

    This week’s challenge is to convince them that bed making is actually a daily event; and to unpack their bag from their last sleep over at the GPs. (I am getting them to pack what they want to take – aside from clothes… I pack them still; just their stuff. Then, if anything is forgotten, it’s their responsibility)

  2. Lynda says:

    You are doing really well with the “independence lessons”, Tess. My two have always been very independent (partly them, partly me). It is lovely now they are a bit older that I can send them into a shop to buy “something for dinner” and they can pick out something, get accompaniments and get change.

    Have you considered joining your boys into Scouts? That was one place where mine made leaps and bounds in independence. And they love it.

  3. Angela says:

    It is lovely reading where the boys are at. With Miss Mikayla 7.5 and Master Kaelan starting at prep next year, we will be launching into the wonderful world of guinea pigs – a pet we are hoping each will be able to independently do some looking after around….much to their excitement! 🙂 Master K is very good at making his bed and everyone elses………when he feels like it ……… one day it will become a daily chore. He is also very good at setting the table and would LOVE to take on other tasks as I have the time and energy to gently help him into. Miss Mikaylas mission this holidays has been to exert her seniority over our little man, reminding us that she is older and should be allowed to stay up later sometimes and other such privileges….and so we embark on this next stage of the journey too.
    Life is ever changing, and it is a joy to be able to take stock and think about what is next, at the same time as the yournger pre-school years are farewelled with a tinge (or significantly more) sadness. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to the next installment.

  4. Lorraine says:

    I don’t think any of mine will ever be able to change a toilet roll. After all, the MOTH still hasn’t learnt how to at age 39… The older boys are quite confident at buying things (school canteen helps there) and last week we went into a ‘lolly shop’ and I gave Eliot $2 to buy his choice. The girl behind the counter got an A for telling him to wait for his change.


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