How will my kids Learn Independence?

I often hear the argument from my kids that sounds something like this, “I can do it myself!” When things are busy and they’re playing or distracted, I don’t hesitate to say something like, “you made the mess so you can clean it up.” or “do it yourself, you’re a big boy.”  So, how about those moments when they are volunteering to do something because they feel they can do it and you’re hesitating for fear of the mess or time lost?

My four year old asked me today if he could make his own lunch sandwich. This sandwich is named, The Works as it’s peanut butter, jam, honey and banana slices all in one toasted package. He gets out all the condiments, the bread and the plate and knife and waits for my permission. OK, call me if you need help. With this, I promptly leave the room and forbid myself to watch as I know the control freak in me will start hovering and giving incessant advice my kid doesn’t even want. I’m hearing the tinkering of the knife against whatever glass jar, and the various noises that go with this process, but I stay in my office. Next I hear, “Mom, I need help with the banana”.  Ok, I head out to help not sure what mess will be all over my counter. I don’t even look into the jars as I don’t want to know how much peanut butter is in the jam jar.

It turns out, he did a great job. There’s way too much honey on the sandwich but it’s ON the toast. Awesome. He’s proud of himself because he really did do it by himself. Lesson learned: if you really want your kids to be independent and learn to do things on their own, you HAVE TO LET THEM. yikes!  I admit I can’t watch, but if this is the solution for their frustration and my criticizing them for not doing enough, so be it.

All done making Lunch by The Albano Clan
All done making Lunch, a photo by The Albano Clan on Flickr.

The aftermath after my four year old made his own toasted peanut butter, jam, honey and banana sandwich. Super awesome.