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Fostering Independence in Children

I answered a question once on a forum where someone asked about fostering independence in their small child. I told some variation of the following story (probably with less colorful descriptions):

When my oldest son was about 17 months old, he decided to start putting his dishes in the sink after he finished eating, just like his mom did. "Mom" -- that would be me.

Well, my father essentially did nothing he deemed "women's work" and my husband was also terrible about not picking up after himself. So, since my small child was male and lots of males in the immediate family behaved an awful lot like cavemen, I in no way wished to discourage this behavior. I was concerned that any discouragement would cause him to conclude that males don't put dishes away.

The problem was that he was really short and couldn't see into the sink at all, so he was chunking his dishes into the sink above his head, much like it was a basketball hoop and the dishes were the…

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