Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A is for Autonomy

My parenting lesson this week is autonomy.

Independence, self-rule, self-determination.

Freedom.

As the kiddos get older, we're having to (yet again) readjust our parenting.  Recently this includes not directing or advising the minutiae of their lives.  You know, like, "put a coat on!" or "eat with a fork" or "don't leave your shoes there."  Ad infinitum.

It's not that we're allowing a free-for-all with rules and behavior, just that we are trying to set up some basic rules and then just not nag.  In other words, we're trying to give them a chance to do what needs doing without correcting them immediately or even directing them beforehand.  And we've stressed that with new freedom comes new responsibility, a very grown-up kind of thing.

We're trying to let them do and decide so much more.  They choose their snacks, help with breakfast, pack their backpacks, pick their own cold-weather wear (I only insist on a real coat under 20F), put away their clothes, do house chores (dishwasher unloading, laundry moving, fetching cat food, sweeping floor, wiping table), brush/floss without supervision, cut their own finger and toenails, order at a restaurant and/or ask staff in stores questions, run down the street or around the corner on errands/to visit neighbors, among other things.  But now we're also trying to get them to choose when to take a bath/wash hair (every season but summer is bathing approximately every other night), set their own alarm clocks and wake up to them, decide on the end of their own bedtime reading (within reason), practice their musical instruments, run short errands within a store by themselves--out of my eyesight! (which SHOCKED moms at a recent party; they couldn't believe I let them out of my sight in Target, even in pairs.)  And the biggest one of all:  police their own screentime!

Yep, we've worked out a system whereby they get 5 hours a week and I'm no longer going to say when.  Only caveats:

1.  They have to have finished homework first.
2.  If they fudge their times, they lose all screentime for the week.
3.  One consequence of misbehavior can be losing the option of using their screentime for a day or days.

They are so excited to be in control and I will be glad when I'm not.

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