Raising Independent Children

Only one in five children can tie a reef knot, according to a survey carried out on behalf of the Scout Association. My first thought on reading this was, “How on earth will they manage to tie a neat knot in a silk scarf when they are older”, which may not be quite what the Scout Association was worried about.


I bet she knew how to tie a reef knot


While being able to tie an reef knot, or mend a puncture may be a handy skill to have, there are other items on the list that we really should be teaching our pre-teen children.

How to cook a meal – my daughter is 9 years old and recently asked if she could cook the evening meal. I was out for the evening, so she cooked Spaghetti Carbonara which was pronounced “almost as good as Mama’s spaghetti”.

Basic First Aid – and what to do in an emergency situation. Teach them the numbers of the emergency services, or write them down and make sure the children know where to access that information.

Laundry – from about 5 or 6 years old the children can be given their folded washing and asked to put the washing into their wardrobes or chest of drawers. They are also capable of putting their clothes in the laundry basket.

Housework – I am not suggesting that you make them do all the housework, but they can help to tidy up their toys. If they are home when you are cleaning, hand them a duster and let them “clean”. You may have to go back and re-do that bit that they did when they are not looking.

Table Duties – setting the table and clearing the table. Make sure they know how to load the dishwasher and when they are about 7 or 8, you can ask them to help empty the dishwasher.

Caring for Pets – obviously this is only suitable for doing under supervision. You cannot expect a 9 year old to remember to feed the dog every day, but there is no reason that your child cannot help to feed the dog, or clean out the hamster cage.


These are just suggestions, there are plenty of other things that you can ask your pre-teens to do, both in the house and out of it.


When we encourage our children to do things for themselves, they realise that they are capable of a whole lot more than they thought they were. It boosts their self-confidence and prepares them for life outside of the home. Encourage their  independence, make them to do chores themselves. They may moan about it it, but they will be proud that you trust them to do these things.

If you do everything for your child, then don’t be surprised when your teenager does not lift a finger to help you and you turn into the Martyred Mummy. You know the type. She spends all day running after her teenagers, taking them to and from activities, remembering to give them their homework, cleaning their rooms, walking the dog that they absolutely HAD to have but now cannot be bothered with.

So if you haven’t started yet, do so now. You can combine it with pocket money if you want; I prefer not to as I think that these “chores” should not be financially compensated.

They are lessons for life.