Raising Resilient Youngsters
All too often we over-protect our children, and rightly so some of the time. However, we can take steps to ensure they grow up being able to deal with a range of potential experiences.
Leaving the house in time in the morning
Once your children reach junior age (7 or 8), make a list of what they need each day for school and pin it up so you can check it together, and over time they can take more and more responsibility for it – as parents we still might need to check though! Don’t be afraid to let them be late for school if they are dragging their heels, the consequences at school will help them learn the importance of sticking to their routine.
Once they reach secondary school age agree a revised morning routine and stress to them that it’s their responsibility to pack their bags and ensure they have everything they need. Obviously, they might need a reminder or two, especially if you have remembered something they haven’t, but sometimes a detention is a good learning curve!
Pocket money can be a useful tool
Ron Lieber wrote a book titled ‘The Opposite of Spoiled’ and in it he suggests that pocket money is a useful tool from the age of 5 in order too help children understand the values of perseverance, patience and responsibility. It’s not about handing over a few pounds every Friday, more about working out what the money is expected to pay for. Lieber suggests that the pocket money be split into three jars – ‘spend’, ‘save’ and ‘give’ in order to encourage responsibility. Once children reach between ten and twelve switch to a monthly allowance that should include buying music, trips to the cinema etc and once they reach fourteen you could try an annual allowance to cover all their needs including clothes. One more really important point to remember is don’t bail out a teenager if they’ve made a poor decision.
Jobs around the home
Research has shown that those children who help out with chores tend to develop a more can-do attitude. It suggests that by ten years old children should be changing their own bedding, dusting and vacuuming, by twelve helping to clean toilets and bathrooms and by thirteen doing basic DIY tasks involving using a screwdriver or changing light bulbs. Weekend work is a natural progression for older teenagers to further foster responsibility.
Unfortunately it is less common for children to walk to school on their own for reasons we are all aware of, however, it is recognised that they are capable of walking to school on their own from the age nine providing that as parents we have taught them how to cross a road safely and given them little tastes of independence. The best way forward is to gradually allow them to develop the skills for greater independence – by age ten or eleven they should be walking to the shops with a friend and using public transport for shopping trips and by thirteen or fourteen most should be capable of an evening trip to the cinema with a friend.
Should we still be putting our ten year olds to bed? There is some thinking that we should always be looking to see what they are capable of doing themselves. By the age of eight children are capable of brushing their own teeth, running a bath (and washing in it), drying themselves, going to the toilet and putting on pyjamas. Parents then only need to do the nice bits – reading stories and tucking them in!
From the age of seven, children have developed good enough motor skills to use a sharp knife safely and make a sandwich. By ten, they should be able to use a kettle, toaster and microwave according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. From eleven they should be able to cook a simple meal with guidance and by twelve, cook a meal for everyone in the family.