Emma is going through a serious independent stage right now!  Heaven help me.  Some of the things I’ve heard her say lately:

“I can do it all by myself!  Please don’t help me.”
“I’m a big girl, mom – NOT a baby.”
“I want to learn to cook, mom.”
“I’m growing bigger, I’m growing up high, high to the SKY!”
“Will I be taller soon, mommy?”

When I’m cooking or cleaning, she’s right there wanting to do it with me.  She tirelessly pulls one of our tall chairs into the kitchen to stand on every day and puts it back when she’s done (the girl has developed some muscle doing this).  She would love to make dinner herself and has been asking me lately if she can – then she’s crestfallen if I say I need to handle the hot stuff for her.

I’ve gotten pretty good at distracting her with odd jobs, though – like yesterday while making a Mexican dish I had her grate the cheese for me (after I had explained the risks of cutting herself if she isn’t careful).  She spent a good 15 minutes grating the cheese and had a whopping tablespoonful afterwards, but boy was she proud!

(I suspect the cheese shortage might partly have been due to her eating it as she went…)

Going through this independent stage has been cool in some ways, too. Like when it comes to helping me with things she can actually help with, like fetching things for her brother. He is getting kind of spoiled by her, actually – when he wants something he grabs her hand and drags her to his destination.  She always guesses what he wants, too!

THEN there are the times when I find her in the kitchen on a chair getting snacks she isn’t supposed to be getting into.  She thinks that because she feels like a grown-up she should get the same privileges mommy and daddy have.  Alas, not true.  But also something she would appreciate if she were a “big person” for a day with big person responsibilities!

This ‘I’m a big girl” attitude has been the perfect springboard for teaching Emma about working for privileges.  I just recently traded another mom for a VReader with some games, and although I was excited about it I didn’t want to just give it to Emma.  I want her to learn that there are rewards for working hard, not that awesome things come to the door in boxes because she’s the center of the universe.  ;-)

So I set her to work helping me, telling her that she would get money for a special toy whenever she finished her “jobs” (most of which entail her picking up her own messes).  She really responded well!  Usually I have to prod her a few times to finish a job, but with a potential reward in place she perked right up. Something like this really makes the gift more of a treasure – there’s something special about things you purchase yourself with your hard-earned money, isn’t there?  You treat it differently than you might gifts that others give you.  That’s how Emma is with the VReader (and by the way I really like it!).  She calls it her “kid’s kindle”.  :)

Just when I start feeling sad over how fast my little girl is growing up, and how much she wants to grow up, Emma switches on me.  Last night I asked her if she wanted to put herself to bed.  She said, “No!”  I asked, “But aren’t you a big girl?”  Her response:  “I’m not that big yet.”

Good.  :)

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One Response to The Post in Which I Talk About My Independent 4-Year-Old and Encourage Child Labor ;-)

  • BEST TITLE EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *so afraid for the day when my son no longer WANTS to help me around the house*

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