Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Am Full of Instructions

I have recently become aware of how many instructions I issue to my daughter. "Don't forget to use soap", I say. "Can you pick up your socks, please?" "Let's brush teeth now". I had an a-ha moment the other day listening to our wonderful nanny. "Look, your clothes are on the floor", she said. Just a statement of fact, said with a tone of mild interest. What's going to happen next? the tone implied. And darned if B didn't pick up her discarded shirt, pants and underwear and put them in the laundry basket. I LOVE our nanny. She is fantastic with kids, loves to be with them, and has a way of interacting that gets results without heartache.

Clearly, at nearly three and a half, my daughter knows what tasks need doing. Clothes go in the laundry, teeth get brushed, hands are washed after potty. If I let her take the lead, the right stuff will get done. But oh, it can take forEVER. "Must ... sit ... on ... hands", I tell myself as I watch the painfully slow progress of any routine task. The nanny always seems to have forefront in her mind that she is helping B to become an independent, self-sufficient individual. Time spent now encouraging capability and responsibility is worth it; instructing her each step of the way to pee, pull up her pants, flush, turn on the water, unstick the soap from its holder, lather, etc. etc. etc. when she knows full well what comes next might result in a few minutes saved today, but much longer battles at age 9 when she needs micromanaging to get her homework done.

So, as an early New Year's resolution, I'm starting to bite my tongue when I can, and when I can't, attempting to simply state facts, not instructions. Oh, and breathing, relaxing, and letting go of the desire to always move things along at my pace. What techniques do you favor (whether you actually use them or not!) in encouraging independence?

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