Making change (for independence) happen in your family

At the end of a recent Raising Independent Children Masterclass a dad asked me how to go about getting his kids to become more independent. He loved what I was talking about; he wanted to implement the ideas but he didn’t know where to start. In particular he want his kids to do more for themselves and to help out more at home.

In this video, I want to share with you how you can go about creating change in your family.

In summary

Change is always best in families when it’s invited rather than imposed. In this case, I suggested that the dad sit down with his children and let them know that he needed their help. He could go about this in a number of ways:

1. Invite children’s cooperation. Ask “What can you do help out more around the house each week?” Let kids start talking and take it from there but be prepared to make sure kids take an even spread of chores/help to avoid later resentment. Also he could let his children know that there are certain things that he isn’t going to do any more. For instance, you may let them know that you aren’t putting school lunches into school bags any more. That’s their job. You’ll make them but won’t pack them. Being clear on your responsibilities opens up simple chances for children to be more responsible.

2. Make a list of activities or jobs and ask his kids to choose. Place these jobs on a roster and get them to agree to do them for a week and then sit down with them and discuss how it went. Be positive and appreciative and willing to make adjustments. It really helps to listen to kids and take their ideas on board. It’s also smart politics to place yourself on the roster too and do some of the jobs that you expect kids to do.

3. Hold regular family meetings (weekly or fortnightly). Family meetings are great for allocating jobs but importantly, they give children a voice in how the family-life is conducted. Children in the early primary school years usually love them, but they can go cold on them when they move into upper primary school. However family meetings also work well with teenagers when they are organisational (“What’s happening this week?”), part discussion-based (“What do we need to do to make family-life easier?”) and part problem-solving (“I’ve noticed you’re stretched trying to get everything done. Is there anyway we can help?”). Adolescents usually appreciate having a forum to air their views and get things off their chests.

Change is usually best when it’s evolutionary (bit by bit) rather than revolutionary (massive changes); when you bring kids along with you rather than impose it; and when you are also willing to make the same types of contributions that you expect from your children and young people. It also helps to be consistent and stick with your simple independence-building plan.

For great ideas to build a lasting sense of independence in children and young people read my new book Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent kids that’s been released nationally by Penguin Random House. You can get your copy now