Guest Blog Post: Empowering independence in children through connection

Tips for an easier health recovery

Written by Stacey Band

Stacey Band holds a Bachelor of Science in Child Development, a Master Degree in Public Administration from a School of Education, and is an AMS certified Montessori Teacher. With more than 12 years of experience working with children in various capacities, she founded Home Day Hero. Through her work, Stacey is proud to offer a variety of support services aimed to enhance lives of families, educators, and educational facilities.  Through thoughtful and meaningful support, Stacey provides  resources that further children’s success. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her two young children and her college sweetheart, gardening, going on nature walks, and creating cooking and art projects. For more information visit https://linktr.ee/homedayhero

photo of toddler smiling

Parenting Through Health Challenges

If you are a parent or guardian that struggles with illness, recovery or chronic pain, there is hope and opportunity for connectivity between you and the children in your life. Let’s empower our kids to develop skills for independence that are developmentally appropriate. With some specific goals in mind, we can work to provide activities that are helpful and beneficial for everyone!

Let’s allow ourselves to feel these experiences and be present, despite the challenges that exist within on own lives and bodies. One critical piece of information to note: Our days may be similar, but no two days may be identical and that’s okay. There is strength in knowing what we can and cannot control, and even more power in focusing on the areas for which we do have some control. This control is like a superpower and we must be careful how we exert this power, so to allow those around us the freedom to share and express with us, as a part of ongoing conversations that intertwine within our relationships.

a mother reading a book with her child in bed

5 Things to Consider

In thinking about the ways that children are able to interact with their environment and the people within the space, it is important to consider the following focus areas: 

-Care of Self 

-Care of Others

-Care of the Environment

-Opportunities to Interact

-Opportunities to be Close

The Details

For those curious about the feasibility of implementing activities focused around the above areas, I’m proud to share that many of the activities are actually centered around daily activities; aside perhaps, from “Opportunities to Interact and Be Close,” as these will be more specific to the everyday happenings and needs within our homes.

Care of Self – relates to the child’s ability to care for themselves through the act of small tasks that exist throughout the day.

Care of Others – focuses on how a child can participate in tasks and activities that may focus on the needs of others without any necessary benefit to themselves.

Care of the Environment – takes into account the setup of the environment in the way that it exists and may uncover additional ways the child can be a more active participant in caring for their own belongings, as they relate to the environment.

Opportunities to Interact – based upon the child’s interests, opportunities have a beautiful way of presenting themselves that can lead to conversations, storylines, and even the creation of new fun games. 

Opportunities to be Close – based upon time and space available, sometimes children just like to be near us or even in the same room; as it provides them with a sense of comfort or even fulfills the overarching need to be seen.

man person love people

Make It Possible:  2-3 years old

Care of Self- finding their water-bottle to prepare to leave the house and when arriving home, placing the water-bottle inside where it can be found later; selecting a top and a bottom or a pair of socks and shoes from a limited selection; placing dirty clothes in a basket at the end of the day; finding a tissue and requesting help to wipe their nose; locating their hairbrush and requesting help brushing their hair; select a snack from a limited selection.

Care of Others– obtaining a tissue, when they notice that someone is sad; show empathy towards others in additional ways; obtaining and selecting enough snack to share (for example: 2 fruit bars, instead of 1)!

Care of the Environment- learning to choose activities and replace them on a shelf or in their proper place, once done playing; learning to clean up water spills; learning about items that are rubbish and belong in the rubbish bin; practicing using activities and toys gently and carefully.

Opportunities to Interact- “I spy” games using the space available in a particular room, reading books together, simple matching games (object, cards).

Opportunities to be Close- playing with toys or a game in a designated space (at a small table, on a small rug (work mat), simple colouring activities or low mess craft projects and activities.

Make It Possible4-6 years old

Care of Self- select their own outfits from their drawers or closet; put on their own shoes and put them away independently; may assist with clean laundry by finding matching socks, putting folded clothes away, and helping fold towels of varying sizes; can select and prepare simple snack items: including, but not limited to: spreading creams, butters, and jams, slicing fruits and vegetables using something blunt like a cream cheese spreader, and even prepare freshly squeezed orange juice.

Care of Others- share toys with other children or make suggestions regarding available activities to enjoy; may find joy in showing a younger child how to use toys or other activities properly and or with more care; making enough snacks to offer to share with other children; showing other children how to complete routines or activities and serve as a helpful example.

Care of the Environment- knows and remembers where activities, toy, and books belong and can accurately put them away, when done enjoying; taking dirty dishes to the kitchen or sink and may even show interest in rinsing their own dishes. 

Opportunities to Interact- play board games such as: candy land, chutes and ladders, dominoes, connect four, memory card games etc.; work on a puzzle together; brainstorm through a problem or challenge together.

Opportunities to be Close- Colour in a colouring book or draw together, watch one of the child’s favourite shows together; offer the child a space to do their favourite activity near you or in the same room.

black woman with anonymous son washing hands

Make It Possible7-9 years old 

Care of Self– able to see routines from beginning to end (hopefully with few to little reminders), self-motivated, capable, and proud of skills and abilities. Able to put their own clean clothes away and able to shower independently.

Care of Others– assist other children in the home with selecting clothes for the day, assist with more challenging ties on shoes, latches on pants, and zippers on coats, etc. Depending on their height, may be able to assist with some additional laundry-related tasks; such as sorting laundry, placing items in the water or dryer. May use a microwave or toaster oven to heat or warm foods like toast or oatmeal.

Care of the Environment– able to not only rinse dirty dishes, but able to wash them or place them in a dishwasher; may be able to make simple foods/dishes that can be shared; may be able to help other children find activities and or books to enjoy and encourage or assist in their return to the shelf (or proper location) upon completion. 

Opportunities to Interact– share stories about your day, board games like: Scategories, Pictionary, Monopoly, Life, etc.

Opportunities to be Close– read a chapter book or children’s magazine together, work on homework in a designated space near an adult, work on drawing, coloring, or art projects in a designated area in the same room.

Remember, everything DOES NOT need to happen ALL AT ONCE. New opportunities are introduced as they are relevant, possible, and developmentally appropriate. Often times, children do their best when individual opportunities are presented one at a time, rather than many new opportunities all at once; as this can be overwhelming for them, and you, as the adult, as well. It is helpful to have discussions with children and even brainstorm potential ideas or opportunities. Involving the children in changes that occur has a special way of creating ownership and easing the tension that could exist, as the result of presenting something “new.” Regardless of your situation, you still are the hero in your own home. And, sometimes, even hero’s need a sidekick!

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