5 Useful Tips for a Self Sufficient Tween

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“Mom, I can do it by myself.” Imagine the tinge of sadness I felt inside when I first heard this a year ago. I learned my “baby” did not need me to walk him to the entrance for school every morning. I had been doing this since kindergarten. It made me happy but, my little boy could do it by himself from now on. That was one of many occasions where I heard those “dreadful” words “Mom, I can do it by myself.”

As our kids get older and more independent it can sometimes be a struggle where to differentiate between what you can still do for them and what they can do for themselves. Although sometimes saddening, this is a good thing. Self sufficiency should be encouraged.

“IT’S NOT WHAT YOU DO FOR YOUR CHILDREN, BUT WHAT YOU HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO DO FOR THEMSELVES THAT WILL MAKE THEM SUCCESSFUL HUMAN BEINGS”

-ANN LANDERS

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1. Try not to get involved. Watching your child do something the “wrong” way or seeing how long it takes them to do something you could breeze through in much less time is sometimes “difficult” to watch. Sometimes we want to take over. We want to get it done quickly to move on to the next thing. Stop doing this moms (myself included….lol). It’s fine to offer assistance or let them know there’s an easier way to do it but, your kids must be given the opportunity to figure it out on their own.

2. No more mom to the rescue. We learn no lessons without failure. Allow your tween to take responsibility for his actions taking care of his business.

  • forgetting things at home that they need for school

  • not getting assignments done on time

  • behaving in a way that results in the loss of privileges

  • losing things that they need to keep up with

    I had to learn this lesson the hard way, when my now college student was younger, she was notorious for leaving things at home. Time and time again, I would rush things to the school in the mornings on the way to work just to make her life easier. One morning, I get the usual panicked text requesting that I bring something that was forgotten, I responded simply “no”. I explained that was not my responsibility to take care of her business and she would have to suffer the consequences of not being prepared. It took a few more times of suffering those consequences for her to get it but, it happened.

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3. Encourage Self Advocacy. It is important that our children know how to stand up for themselves. Us parents will not and cannot always be there to fight their battles. Encouraging your children to advocate for themselves gives them confidence in their own abilities and character. Of course there are times when as a parent, you will have to become involved in certain situation but, the initial step should be taken by your child. Be sure to let your child know that you support them in their efforts and will be in the background to help them in any way that you can.

4. Provide Age Appropriate Responsibilities. Let the kids get in on all this fun mom action.

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  • folding laundry

  • vacuuming

  • cleaning

  • helping prepare meals

    These are all tasks which could be delegated to your tween. It’s never to early to teach your children life skills they will someday need. The only way they will become proficient is be allowed the opportunity to practice. I’ve recently started doing this with my son and to be perfectly honest, I was surprised how good he was at it. I automatically assumed I would have to go behind him to do touch-ups but, seeing as though I had never given him the opportunity to do it before, I wouldn’t have known. He enjoys helping me prep meals, it’s another opportunity for us to bond. He’s trying to get me to allow him to wash dishes, yes wash dishes….. well load the dishwasher I should say. I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. Stuck on food really chaps my hide. I simply say to him “The day I start asking you to wash dishes, is the day you won’t want to do it.” LOL. Another tip to remember when starting out giving your kids chores is to give them specific instructions on how to complete the task. Say “put all the laundry in the basket” and “put the toys in the chest” versus “clean your room”.

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5. Don’t lower the boom on ‘em. Let your tweens know ahead of time what is to be expected of them going forward. Let them know you are giving them more responsibility because they are growing up and should no longer be treated as “babies”. My son loves when I acknowledge how “grown up” he is now. Let your child know you will continue to be available for support or to answer any questions but, you are putting them in charge of new things. Having this discussion ahead of time will make for a smoother transition for you and your family.

How are you handling your kids growing up?

Do you have any tips of your own?