On Jocko Willink’s podcast [jockopodcast.com] he suggested a child by age 6 should be making his own lunch for school. The guest reflected that there was no way his son, age 6, could make his own lunch. Jocko’s response was, “So you’re teaching him to be dependent.” (Yikes, that hurt.)
Everything you do FOR your children (even with good intentions) that they COULD do for themselves delays their ability to function independently. Sure, making their lunch might be a joy for you, or it might prevent a mess in your kitchen, but learning to be responsible is part of maturing the child’s brain. Are you, as a parent, willing to sacrifice the pleasure of the task and the pain of the mess, so that your child can develop their ability to connect their behavior to their consequences?
It’s difficult to convey how important it is for your child to have repeated experiences of being able to complete a task or take responsibility. Those early experiences build confidence and provide a foundation for new challenges. Sure, their lunches might be low in nutrition, but making the lunch will pave the way for necessary skills like time management and setting personal goals.
By the time your child’s hit adolescence, starting to compare themselves to their peers, they are often filled with insecurity. Being able to point to back, as their coach, to their track record of taking on responsibilities, will steady their confidence.
But they need a history of successes, a track record of new skill completions, in order for you to point to it! Start now, wherever they are. A new skill like laundry or lunches or paying a few bills under your supervision, can do wonders for their confidence and independence.