As parents, we know our main aim should be teach our kids the skills they need to go out into the world by themselves but I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds that idea terrifying. I think the key is going to be finding little ways to let the boys test out their independence in a way that doesn’t give me a heart attack. So what sort of independence can little ones really have?
Shopping – I wouldn’t be keen to let the boys out of my site in a supermarket but they can be given a particular food to look out for on your way round the shop and once they can read you could even give them their own little list, maybe for a particular meal they like.
Siblings – Nothing brings out E’s caring and sensible side like being asked to keep an eye on his little brother or help him with something. T’s nursery is located in the same building as E’s school and for the first time a couple of weeks ago, instead of walking T into Nursery, I left the two of them at the door with instructions for E to take T to his room, help him hang up his coat and make sure Kim (his key worker) knew he was there. Of course I actually watched them through the window the whole time but E was so proud of himself which was just lovely.
Cooking – Ovens and knives may still be out of bounds but there are plenty of foods that kids can make with very little help. Things like making mini pizzas with their own choice of toppings or assembling their own sandwiches and wraps.
Summer Camps – Day camps and ‘stay away’ camps are a great way for kids to try new things in a new environment which is great for their confidence while you can still be sure that they are being well looked after and supervised.
Choices – I give the boys choices in every day life (generally in situations where I have a degree of control over the options) so they can choose things like broccoli or carrots for dinner or which books they want from the library and talk with them about how they made that choice to try and underline the logic of comparing options and thinking them through.
Kids will sometimes be just as nervous of taking on new things as we are of letting them (Helen from Kiddicharts wrote about her experience of having an anxious little one) but hopefully we can get there together. Of course older children can also benefit from ‘practicing’ for independence. The brilliant Pinkoddy has written a great post about encouraging her oldest son, who has Aspergers, to start cooking for the family so do check that out too.
[Note: This post is brought to you by Camp Beaumont]
Image courtesy of Claire Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net