Your Roadmap to Teaching Kids Self-Sufficiency

Get a simple 8-step process for teaching kids how to be self-sufficient. Help your kids learn responsibility and how to contribute to the home. Get kids doing chores and help them learn to be independent.

Mom and daughter baking

Back in June, we talked about the steps to creating a parenting plan (and why you want to do so). This time, we will talk about implementing the plan. These ideas are taken from the book The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack.

Step One: No guilt (page 31).

Boyack’s first requirement is that you Dump the Guilt. No matter the age of your child, if the child is still living with you, you can implement this plan.

Step Two: Time it right (page 43)

You want to start implementing the plan at a good time of year. For school-aged children, this is often around New Years or the beginning of summer. September can be bad because there is a lot of “new” already happening.

For younger children, it doesn’t matter too much when you start.

Step Three: Family meeting (page 31)

With babies and toddlers, the family meeting can be just with your spouse. This will just be a way of life for your children if you start young.

If you have preschoolers or older, you will want the entire family involved. First, tell the children what you will be doing. 

Next, talk about why you are doing this plan. Why is always helpful with the children. “It is interesting that when you explain to your children the why of things, you can get tremendous buy-in” (page 32). Keep the description on the child’s level of understanding.

Next, go through the list. For older children, you can point out what they already know and have accomplished. 

Finally, get the children’s input, if old enough, on what they want to learn to do and work on. Add it to their list. 

Step Four: Create a time table (page 43)

Write down on your calendar when you plan to start training the child to do the tasks. Create a routine in when you will train (you need to train the child to do the task before you hand the task over and expect the child to do it alone). 

Step Five: Vary who does the training (page 43)

Your child will need to be trained. It can be mom, dad, neighbor, grandma, or older sibling…it is fun for kids to get training from various people. 

Step Six: Vary the tracking methods (page 43)

You might track progress on the computer, sticker chart, a list you cross off, your phone…just like with chore charts, tracking charts will be best used when you mix it up over time.

Get my printable chore cards and chore charts here.

Step Seven: Increase freedoms/privileges as tasks are passed off (page 44)

This is especially true for the older children like teenagers. Boyack points out that if your child wants to do a task like start babysitting, you can require skills like basic first aid, making phone calls, knowing how to contact authorities, CPR, and fix simple meals.

Once the necessary skills are passed off for a certain freedom your child wants, that freedom can then be available to the child.

Does your younger child want a dog? What sorts of skills does your child need to demonstrate first? 

But be careful–“…don’t push this so far that they give up altogether” (page 44)–don’t put so many requirements in the way that the child decides it isn’t worth the effort.

Step Eight: Use rewards appropriately (page 45)

You can offer certain rewards to work toward for passing off a certain number of goals. A date out for ice cream, a trip to the pool…or maybe you tell them they can have their own apron when they learn to do XYZ in the kitchen.

Points to Remember

1- “…kids want to be taken seriously…They want their lives and their abilities to be respected.” (page 46)

2- “…implementing The Plan is harder and more work for Mom and Dad.” (page 46)

3- “Just keep that end goal in mind” (page 46)

John Rosemond said, in Daily Guide to Parenting, “Self-sufficiency is the yardstick of self-esteem. The road to self-sufficiency is paved with frustration, disappointment, failure, falling flat on one’s face, and other equally ‘unhappy’ experiences. We cannot afford to deny children these things.”

This is a broad view on how to implement. I think one of the most crucial parts to implementing is the actual training, so next time we will look in depth on how your help your child achieve these goals.

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