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How to Encourage Independence


New Chapters in parenting

This weekend we hit a new chapter of parenting: Independence! Our kids are now 4 and 6, and this weekend was the first time they independently played outside with our neighbors for about 2 hours. It was incredible.

As a disclaimer – we live in Montana, where the Covid-19 restrictions in our county are allowing for outside interactions of groups up to 10.  So, we are definitely still obeying all the health laws and guidance.  But you guys.  This was an incredible milestone for us.  We just moved into a new home in March, and we are starting to feel like the wonderful family next door, and the neighborhood park in our backyard are the two best parts of this home.  Here’s how we got there:

1.  We make the outdoor play materials accessible to the children, so they don’t need our help.  The basketballs are in a box that is on the bottom shelf near the garage entrance, and sidewalk chalk is stored right beside it.  Also, our daughter just learned to ride her bike in April, so bikes are THE primary necessity right now.  We invested in this bike rack, so the kids can easily get their bikes on their own.  Also, they can park their bikes and put their helmets easily on the handle bars, so there is less, “Where is my helmet?”, when they want to go play. This preparation of the environment has proved worth it’s weight in gold!

2.  We have discussed clearly the expectations for independent play. To prevent the need to constantly intervene, with corrections on their behavior, we discuss rules beforehand.  Our expectations include:

  • Use kind words and gentle hands
  • Be respectful to all people and things
  • Stay within the sidewalk, yard and neighboring yards/sidewalks.  No going in the street/across streets.
  • If another child isn’t respecting when you ask them to stop – come get help from an adult.

3.  We are working REALLY hard to allow them the chance to be independent.  Sometimes I uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t know exactly what they are doing.  But I try to remind myself that children build self-esteem through feeling capable and competent.  I want them to grow the internal confidence that they CAN function without mom and dad.  I want them to grow in their ability to solve a problem without me.  These types of things really require a bit of independence to really develop.  So, I peek my head out the door every now and then, to be sure there isn’t an emergency. But I do my best to keep my nose out of their business.

With these 3 tools in place, we are reaping huge benefits! This morning I was able to drink an entire cup of coffee, before it got cold.  Who knew we would ever get there?!

Supporting Parents During Covid-19


Hi there! It’s April, 2020 – and Covid-19 has made our world a very different place.  To connect with parents who are facing such a variety of challenges in this socially-distanced world, I hosted a Facebook Live question/answer hour.  Join me again this Monday, at 2pm MST to get YOUR questions answered.:) Here is the replay, if you missed it:

Join me Monday 4/20 at 2 PM Live on Facebook, as I answer YOUR questions, and shares some non-judgmental, supportive tips and tools for the struggles & challenges of parenting during COVID-19. Hope to see you there: https://www.facebook.com/justastayathomemomblog/. We will record for those who can’t make it live.

Decide What you Will Do (To Motivate Children to Clean-up)


Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up.  “Decide what you will do and follow through” is one of my FAVORITE Positive Discipline tools right now with my 3-year old.  But I have been using it since he was about 1, though.  It helps in SO many situations.

Here is how I use this tool to motivate clean-up:

“If you choose not to help me clean up, I will just clean them up myself.  But anything I clean up alone will be put away and not able to be played with until tomorrow.”  So far this has worked every time.  However, you have to have a few things in place for it to work. A) I use this to clean up the toy he has been playing with before he goes on to a new toy (when I see that he is starting to leave and just forget about the toy he got out).  If you try this at the end of the day with an entire room that is a mess, it will likely not work.  It’s too overwhelming to imagine you are going to put away ALL of his toys for an entire day (for you and him!). B) It works because I have always followed through in the past, so he knows I mean what I say.  If you have gotten into a bad habit of threatening, but then retracting your consequence if he throws a tantrum or you are just too tired…etc – you are likely going to see them refuse to clean-up in order to test if you mean what you say.  Follow through confidently and kindly, and after 1-3 times of follow-through, it will effectively motivate clean-up.

As a side note, if my child starts to have a melt-down about this approach, I use tools to validate his/her feelings, while still holding the boundary.  You can read more on that in my article, “How To Help a 1 Year-Old Having a Tantrum”.

Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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