Fostering independence: our daily rituals in charts

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Each morning my daughter gets herself ready for the day and in the evening she prepares herself to go to bed. Before lunch and diner she helps setting the table. Me or her dad are usually around and, although she can do all the steps independently, we found ourselves repeating the steps she needs to take: “Now you need to put your pyjamas on'“, “Now it’s time to brush your teeth.”, etc..

We carefully did the same steps in the same order to create rituals and I was pretty sure that my daughter new what’s the next after a couple of months, but I have realized that she would easily get distracted by other things (for instance playing with the timer after she finishes brushing her teeth) or completely forgetting the next step and going back to playing instead of getting ready for bed.

On one hand she was not always able to keep her focus and on the other, we started to sound like broken tapes repeating what comes next over and over again. We all knew something needed to change.

As I have noticed that our wheal of time with the weekly rhythm worked so well, I have decided to put our daily rituals into simple and illustrated charts.

I have made 3 of them: one for the morning ritual, one for the bedtime ritual and one for our ritual before meals. The first two are displayed in the bathroom, the last one is in the kitchen.

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To make them it took us less than 1 hour and, as everything I prepare for my daughter, it was team-work. When she was a toddler, I used to prepare things for her during the evenings and the nights (taking this time instead of self-care) but since she turned 2 I have started to include her in my projects.

On our Art Day, we painted 3 aquarelle papers together. Than I have searched for images in her favorite books, representing the actions she needs to take I printed them and my daughter cut out the pictures and glued them on the papers. In then end, I have written the name of each action in cursive.

Done!

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My daughter learned about the creative process of something new and that things don’t magically appear on her shelves and in her environment. I have learned to let go perfection (yes, the charts are not perfectly painted, the images are not perfectly cut out and glued and as a perfectionists this is hard to accept ;) but it was so much more fun to do this with my daughter and I didn’t have to stay up late at night to get this done)

We have been using this charts for one week now and they have made such a big difference in our lives. Because she co-created them, my daughter immediately adopted them. The charts have brought her more predictability, a sense of independence and have empowered her to do what she already knew but somehow she couldn’t always put together. I have also the feeling that we got out of her way and that now she can build the independence she needs to build.