Responsibility and Independence for 6.5yr old boy!

Kate - posted on 06/30/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My husband and I hold our 6.5-year-old son responsible for many things (his own library card, cleaning his room, making his bed, clearing his dishes, etc.), and we also give him the independence to do things on his own without being babied (brushing his teeth, washing himself in the bath/shower, wiping himself after going #2, sleeping in his own bed, doing his nose spray - supervised, of course). The problem is that his BM doesn't do any of these things... She still brushes his teeth for him, still bathes him, even wipes him after he goes #2, and still lets him sleep in her bed (he slept in her bed until he got his own room when he was 5 years old).



She's yelled at us for "forcing him" to wash himself in the shower or brush his teeth by himself, or allowing him to do his nose spray on his own (even though we watch him do it - I know 5 year old kids that can use an inhaler on their own!), and says there's NOTHING wrong with her washing his body or letting him sleep in her bed with her.



His teacher says that while he's very smart and sociable, he struggles with taking responsibility for his wrong-doings and not taking things seriously (acting immature for his age) when it's time to learn.



Do we expect him to do too much on his own, or what is your advice for helping a 6-yr-old boy learn independence and self-reliance?! What's a "good" age to expect these types of behaviors from a child? When I was a nanny, the kiddos would do all of these things on their own by the time they were 4 or 5!

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Denikka - posted on 08/01/2012

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If a child is capable of doing something-a chore or taking care of person upkeep-then there's really no reason they shouldn't be doing it. My son has been helping me around the house since he was about 2. He's 3.5 now and he (and his 1.5yr old sister) help unload the dishwasher, load the laundry, help sweep, and vacuum. He washes his own body (I do his hair), I allow my daughter to do her best at soaping up, he brushes his own teeth (I supervise), he wipes after going potty (and we just recently potty trained-within the last month) and does a pretty good job at all his tasks.
Like I said, if they're capable, why shouldn't they be doing it? Or at least taking an active role in helping?

Starting in September (we're starting preschool), he'll start actually having a chart that has all the things he needs to be doing and we'll be starting to encourage him to start doing things on his own without reminding or one of us standing over him. I don't expect him to get it right away, but it'll be a start.
A 6.5yr old SHOULD have some chores. They are perfectly capable of contributing and doing everything you listed (although I might less willing to let a child that age take care of their own library card-that is the ONLY thing)
I think the mom is just kinda being creepy actually. You should encourage your kid to be independent, even though they're your baby and it's difficult. You do what's best for your kid, no matter how hard it is.

Stephanie - posted on 07/31/2012

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I completly agree with you. At 6.5 years old, doing the tasks you explained are perfectly acceptable tasks he can do on his own. It is not only our responsibility to love, n care for n protect our children, but also to teach them how to take care of themselves and prepare them for life on their own. It's sad and difficult as parents to realize our babies aren't babies for long. No matter how much we want our children to remain little, we cannot stop them from growing.

A child must learn that the world doesn't revolve around them. When kids grow up and reach adulthood and are required to have a job to support themselves, they can't have the mindset that someone else will do everything for them. My personal opionion is that the BM is setting him up for failure.

Maybe you can go to a church or hospital or some place that offers parenting classes and get a pamphlet or advice from someone more experienced in this area to better help you address BM.

Steph :-p

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Kate - posted on 08/01/2012

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Thank you for your encouragement and feedback! It's good to know we aren't expecting too much of him... He actually does have a "goal chart" on the fridge that includes things like "clean up after myself: Flushing the toilet, making my bed, putting away toys" and "read 2 books" and "have a good attitude" etc. He LOVES this and it helps him remember the things he needs to be doing - he loves putting a star next to each one as he completes it or at the end of the day when we talk about how our day was! When we start a new chart he chooses what "prize" he wants to work towards (video game rental, "field trip," a special toy he's had his eye on, etc.), and if he needs a little extra motivation to do something, we remind him of his prize.

His library card is actually connected to my account, so I have a card as well... he keeps his card in his little wallet and whenever we go to the library he grabs it. He knows he's responsible for it, and since he doesn't go to the library w/out me, I know he's not going to abuse the privileges. just gives him a little practice of keeping track where it is, how to use it, etc. :)

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