5 Strategies to Raising a Confident Kid

HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD

I’ve spent years watching kindergarten students acclimate to the classroom. Some students set themselves apart from their peers immediately:

  • they are very verbal
  • they can already read or demonstrate strong foundational literacy skills
  • they have great drawing or writing skills

But then- there are the little kids who have more common sense, can problem solve and are very self-sufficient in the classroom.

Quite often, these students are some of the most successful learners!  

What sets self-sufficient students apart from the rest? 

    • They don’t wait for an adult to help them
    • They are more confident in trying things themselves 
    • They are not afraid to take responsibility for getting a job done
    • They may not have the answer to every academic question but they are the first to volunteer for anything

The benefits of building confidence in a young child

These confident kids know where to find supplies in the classroom.  They make great messengers, and peer buddies for less confident kiddos.   They’re not afraid to take a risk or try something new.

As classroom learners, these are a great skill to possess at a young age.  Independence and confidence will help young kids excel as students.  

START EARLY

Even toddlers love to “help” mom or dad. Let them!  By giving them small jobs at an early age, you are setting them up for a bright future as an independent preschooler.

HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD

Do a little less FOR them.  This will help your child learn to do more on their own.

1.  Give up Control of the Schoolbag: When a child packs his or her own school bag, they know what’s there and what to give to the teacher.  Rather than emptying and filling a child’s folder for them, let them take ownership.  In preschool, they barely have anything in there.  Tell them about the permission slip or notebook so they become responsible to give it to their teacher.  Then let them be in charge of it.  This means wearing it or carrying it, too. *If the backpack is too big for them to do it by themselves, it’s too big! 

“Let’s face it,  it’s faster and easier to do certain things FOR your children.”

But truthfully, you are doing them a disservice.  If you do too much for your child and make everything “easy” for them, you may be creating a more dependent child.   Plus, this makes more work for you!   

2. Resist the Urge to Get Your Kid Dressed:  If a child is able to perform a dressing task, they should be doing it every day!  Life gets hectic, of course.  But try to give your child enough time in the morning to do the parts that they can.  Rushing through the task of getting dressed doesn’t help you in the long run.  Again, it keeps this chore on your never-ending list of morning to-dos!

Think about it:

Aren’t you tired?  Why are you creating a cycle where you are doing more than you need to?  Back off, Momma! It’s ok! 

3. Doing Homework:  If kids can do homework themselves, let them!  Before you explain what to do, ask your child to explain to you, what needs to be done on the page.  This improves their language and thinking skills at the same time.  If they know what to do, let them work independently! If your child needs guidance, only help on the first few questions.  Then back away and let them try on their own. Only give help when it is truly needed.

3. Checking Homework:  Let your kids do the first part of the page on their own and see if they are doing it correctly.  If they need some help, give it but don’t help too much. I don’t want to take away my kids’ thinking time.  Kids need more time than we do to think about the answers.  

If an answer is wrong, don’t tell them the right answer!  This takes away a great problem-solving opportunity.  Instead, say, “look at #3 again” or “read this question over one more time.”  Give your child the chance to decide what was wrong, why it is wrong and how to get the correct answer.  This is where the real thinking, learning, and carry over to other problems happen.  

GET THEM STARTED EARLY. THEY CAN PACK SNACK AS A TODDLER!

4. Lunch box:  Teach your child the best way to pack their own lunch box!  Let them choose their own snack (from approved choices).

They don’t need to make their own lunch yet, just let them learn how to pack it.  This teaches children to be responsible, manage their time in the morning and hopefully make good food choices.  

Plus, it sets them up for the future of making their own lunch, taking yet ANOTHER chore away from you…

ASK THEM INSTEAD OF TELLING THEM

5. Being prepared for preschool:  Rather than saying, today is Tuesday, you need to remember your “Show and Tell”.  Slowly shift the remembering and responsibility to your child. Ask him, What day is it?  What do you need to remember on Tuesdays?  This small change helps your child learn to think and plan ahead.

When you spend your career studying 5-year-olds, these subtle differences are noticeable even in kindergarten!  Sometimes birth order plays a part in this; but not always.  I’ve seen this capable confidence in firstborns, last borns, and only children. 

My belief is that it has more to do with parenting styles than other factors.  

DO LESS, Mom and Dad!

Try to do a little less for your toddler or preschooler so he or she learns to do more on their own.  When children can think and problem-solve, it helps them to be more confident and independent.

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About the Author:

Gloria is a Juggling Teacher and Mother of four, with a primary focus in Special Education, Technology and Early Childhood Education. She has over 30 years of classroom experience and strives to incorporate the SmartBoard, iPad and all available technology into her lessons. Most important of all, she wants her students to have fun while they are learning.

After many wonderful years in the classroom, Gloria is now beginning her second career. Her new activities include working as a Pre-School Educational Technology Teacher and Itinerant Teacher for Special needs students and their families. Gloria also creates products for her TeachersPayTeachers store and writes. Her favorite pastimes include Paddle Boarding, yoga and reading at the beach!

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8 Genius Therapist Inspired Toddler Hacks

My New Favorite Parenting Hack Book

Did you register for “What to expect when you’re expecting?”, My mom asked me on the way to my shower.

“No- there’s an app for that!” I told her, laughing.  I knew she wouldn’t get the joke, but I really did have the app.  It’s a pregnancy milestone app that tells you everything you need along the way.   Truthfully, all the books I registered for were for the baby, not me.   I didn’t think I needed it.  I have the internet.

Genius Therapist Inspired Toddler Parenting Hacks

But when my friend Amy gave me a gift on my last day of work, she said, “You’ll love this book- It’s so you.  I know you love a good hack.  I learned a ton from this book, “Parent Hacks, 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids”.

She was right- this book was right up my ally.  It was filled with short but brilliant “Parenting  Tips”, but any and all of them would be helpful for a therapist or teacher, too. Therapists who travel from school to school to see different children have brilliant kid hacks.  They know how to save space and money better than anyone.

These OT Inspired Hacks are aimed at parents of toddlers, but they’re great for any parent or therapist who works with children. Here are my favorite!

8 Toddler Hacks Every Parent Should Know

  1. Store your puzzles in an accordion folder.  This limits all those pieces from flying all over- especially if you’re a traveling therapist or a parent who prefers toys over electronics.

2. Store your coloring books in a dish drain container – the slots in a dish drain are perfect for separating coloring books- and you can stick your crayons in the utensil spots- Genius!

3. Clean up glitter with play-doh.  YES! Glitter is sooo fun, but what a pain to clean.  Playdoh is a great idea- and who cares if your play-doh gets glittery? That only makes it more fun!

4.  Turn your portable crib into a ball pit.  Wow- one of the things I don’t like about ball pits is that it’s so tough to keep the balls inside- they always end up everywhere.  But the walls of a pack n play are tall- making it so much easier to have all the fun without the mess.  Love it!  This would be a great idea for a therapy room, too.  Another good one?  Use an empty laundry basket!

SIMPLE WAYS TO KEEP SMALL TOYS IN PLACE

5. Contain small parts with a cookie sheet.   I’ve spoken about this one- but it’s worth sharing.  A cookie sheet is FANTASTIC for keeping messes contained, from shaving cream to clay to beads and Legos.  (I also LOVE the EZPZ for this purpose.  Its initial purpose is to keep kids from spilling food off the tray, but it works great for fine motor activities).  The edges keep them from going all over the table, as well as the floor. I always have a cookie sheet in my trunk and my therapy bag.  Plus, they’re only a dollar at the dollar store!

6. Turn an under bed storage box into a sandbox.  I actually like these for any kind of sensory bin.  They’re nice and big, so the child can actually get inside if they want.  But I’ve used them for rice bins, weather-themed bins (fake snow is always a hit), and fake “coffins” at Halloween time! (see my garden dirt recipe here)

PARENTING and THERAPIST ORGANIZATION HACKS

7. Use a wine bottle tote as a car organizer. This hack is great for parents and therapists!  The tall skinny vertical compartments are great for curling up activity booklets, crayons, sensory bottles, etc. I love to use an empty wipes jar as a fine motor and hand strengthening tool, they’d fit in there perfectly!

8. Use a hanging shoe organizer to organize craft supplies.  These shoe “pockets” are great for organizing glue, paint, crayons, coloring books, etc.  Plus, it takes up vertical space, which is perfect for a small therapy room or a child’s playroom.  This would even be a great way to organize the trunk of your car!  Cut the pockets and hang them around the edge of the car- then you can find all the toys you need for each kid!

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10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

I am totally on the “LIMIT TECHNOLOGY” for little kids bandwagon and am all about “Pocketbook-Sized Toys”! I have been so inspired by some articles I’ve read lately; especially a great article by Your Therapy Source (link at the bottom).  So I decided to make a list of 10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

As a public school OT, I work with Kindergarten students two days a week.  The continued decline in the basic motor skills of four and five-year-old children is VERY evident.  There are probably many reasons why, but I feel that lack of functional playtime is a BIG contributor.    Nowadays, many kids have their own tablets, TV’s in their rooms, and an iPod shuffle. They spend less and less time playing outside, which limits their gross motor skills, endurance, and coordination.   When they are inside, they spend less time playing with toys and using their hands and more time with technology.

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