Friday, March 12, 2010

The Journey To Independence

As I mentioned in my last post, the thing we're going to be working on now, since we basically have our girl potty trained is to become independent. Of course, until she's a bit older she'll need help with things like wiping and dressing, but I really want to encourage more independence. I just bought a book called "We Help Mommy" at a consignment store last night, and as I was flipping through it today, I noticed that the little girl and boy in the story are probably 3 or 4 years old. The kids undress/dress themselves, make toast, help make the bed, dust furniture, mop, sweep, help with laundry, put groceries away, make sandwiches, set the table, help with doing the dishes, help with cooking, and put their toys away. This book was written in 1959, and it seems that things have changed since then. Nowadays, parents don't complete potty training until age 3, and some are training even later, with Kindergarten being the absolute deadline....

The question then is whether it's better for kids to be independent later or earlier. I understand the temptation to protect children and baby them. But is it really a positive thing for the child? Kids are becoming less and less independent, and surely that has repercussions on our culture. (This also makes me think of how my generation seems to want to rely on the government, instead of themselves, for success) Is this trend of late potty training simply an symptom of the prevailing parenting trend wherein the child is in control?

What do you readers think? What were some methods you used to encourage independence with your little ones? (IPT related or otherwise!) The main thing I've been doing with our girl is to try to get her to walk to the bathroom. Sometimes she obliges me, other times she resists, and I'll admit that the majority of the time, I just end up carrying her.


  1. I think that early independence is great, but many moms/ families have a hard time letting go and letting there little ones grow up. I think also the birth order and personality plays into it a lot also. My little man has a friend who is the same age just #5 out of 6 kids. She dresses her self and pottys all by herself. Its not that my little man cant dress himself it is just that he does not want to. Getting dressed in a battle in our house so many days we never dress.
    We have been working on independent potting for almost a year and a half. He goes through times where he wants to go on his own and other times when he wants 'help'.
    As far as I can tell independence comes with time, some earlier than others.

  2. I think you're right that birth order and personality have an effect on when a kid achieves independence.

  3. I don't think it's a question of late or early independence. It should just be up to the child. We should neither push nor hinder. Children naturally show signs of wanting to be independent and when that happens, we should take the time to help them.

    Like when my children started climbing on things, I didn't do like I see so many parents doing - trying to stop them from climbing. I took the time to show them how to climb up and down safely. After that, I didn't have to worry about it and they always asked me if they could climb before doing so.

    Perhaps some kids need to be more encouraged than others, but I think that it's mostly the parents who are hindering their children's independence. It does take a lot of time and patience, but it's worth it.