I love fostering independence in my kids from an early age. I teach them to do cleaning jobs, how to order food in a restaurant, do laundry, and more. One thing young kids love to master is putting on their own shoes, and it’s something they can learn at a very early age. For some reason their instinct is to put them on the wrong feet every time. EVERY TIME. I try to accept my kids’ best effort on whatever task I’ve assigned, but wearing shoes on the wrong feet can be really uncomfortable, cause blisters, and make shoes that actually fit feel too tight. That’s not happiness for anyone.
I came up with a simple solution to teach my kids how to put the right shoe on the correct foot. One day after switching the shoes on all three of my triplets for the 80th time that day (because taking off and putting on any item of clothing all day long is a thrill), I grabbed a sharpie and wrote their first initials on the inside edge of the soles of their shoes. I told them that when the letters were kissing, they were on the right feet. They loved it! If they brought their shoes to me to ask which shoe went on which foot I would say, “Make sure the Bs are kissing!” They would swap the shoes and a big grin would follow as they did it all by themselves.
After time the letters start to fade, and they will bring their shoes to me and ask me to do it again so they can continue to do it themselves. Of course the older kids don’t need it now, but my younger two still do. It gives them a guide while still giving them independence and a sense of accomplishment everyday. Kids really need independence. They need to make small gains in autonomy as they grow. It starts as an infant with gaining control over their hands and head and continues from there. Not only do they want it, these gains in independence give them a much-needed sense of control over their own lives and bodies. The more they can (safely) do for themselves, the easier they are to get along with. This is a very easy way to give them that.
What kinds of things do you give your little one control over? What tricks do you have for helping them know how to do things all by themselves?