In reality, although he may need some help with buttons until he fine-tunes his motor skills, your child should be capable of dressing himself by the age of three. Instead of picking out what your child is going to wear, allow him to choose his own outfit from a few options you’ve selected. As he gets older, give him a little more range in options until he is fully independent in dressing himself.
We don’t always agree with our child’s fashion choices, but try to remember that his clothing is a form of self-expression. As long as his clothes are clean and decent, let him wear what he wants (even if you don’t like it).
This is a good lesson for older children and teens as well. Cell phones and other electronic items are a privilege, not a necessity. If your teen loses or breaks hers, having to buy a replacement with her own money will help teach her about the value of her possessions.
As your child get older, he should be responsible for more age-appropriate household tasks, such as doing laundry, helping to clean, and other basic chores. Learning to be responsible and self-sufficient, and taking pride in his environment, is an important lesson that your child will carry with him when he leaves home.
And remember — a little junk food will not be his ruin. Your child’s day-to-day diet should be well-rounded and healthy, but avoid stressing out about a made-from-a-box cupcake at a child’s birthday party. Enjoying occasional indulgences in moderation is a good life lesson, too!
If you do need to intervene, try to avoid offering any solutions and instead be a mediator to help them arrive at one themselves. You might be surprised to see how well they are able to work it out alone. Teaching your child to handle his own conflicts from a young age will help him greatly as he faces tougher battles later in life.
A study from Columbia University found that children who were continually told they were smart tended to avoid activities they didn’t excel at for fear of failing. Instead of praising your child the next time he falls short, talk about what he could have done to make the outcome better and what he’ll do differently next time. It’s important to remember that failure teaches us how to accept disappointment and develop coping strategies to overcome obstacles later on in life.
Some friendships will be positive and some will be negative — and that’s normal. Instead of shielding your child from experiencing the pitfalls, or even the end of a friendship, talk to her about how she feels about certain friends and why, and express the values you look for in your own friendships. It’s a normal part of life and will teach her a lot about herself, and which qualities she values in others.
Allow your child to develop his own interests. Try to keep after-school activities to one per season, and avoid pushing your child if he decides there is one he doesn’t want to continue pursuing. And remember, free time allows your child to read, play, and use his imagination. What could be wrong with that?
Try to find a good balance between giving your child complete autonomy and dictating every minute of his day. Set some restrictions, such as no television or video games during certain times of the day, to help encourage him to use his time wisely, and enforce a winding down period of quiet reading or another relaxing activity of his choice at bedtime. Removing technology and other stimulations at night is a good way to help guide him in determining a healthy bedtime.