5 Ways to Help Kids Develop a Self-Sufficient Mindset
Guest post for GreenBubz by Eva Van Strijp
We’ve all heard the saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And to a large degree, this is true. We do many things the way our parents did them, and unless we’ve been introduced to a different way, we can do these things without ever thinking about them. It will be the same for us.
Our kids watch us, and our actions speak louder than our words. The emphasis we place on self-sufficiency will be reflected in the choices our kids make. Many parents want to imbue their kids with an attitude of self-sufficiency, but it can seem complicated and overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be.
Here are 5 ways that you can start today to help your kids develop healthy habits of self-sufficient living:
1. Grow your own food
You don’t need acreage or a large garden plot to start growing your own veggies. Herbs and many small vegetables can be grown in pots on a terrace. The key ingredients here are sun, water and some love.
2. Reuse wherever possible
Try to find reusable alternatives to all of the single-use items your family owns. This will reap the benefits of saving money, reducing landfill and reducing reliance on the supermarket. If your child is naturally creative, they’ll love the challenge of finding one more useful purpose for everything. Tying this back into the first idea of growing your own food, you can use egg cartons and old plastic lids to grow seedlings. Cover them with old crates to create a mini-greenhouse effect.
3. Indulge in creative play without toys, games or gadgets
Growing up, we knew never to tell Mum we were bored. If we did, we’d promptly be given a job! Mum believed that we should have the capacity to overcome our own boredom and not be reliant on someone or something else to entertain us or make us happy. As a mother myself now, I make sure I don’t fill every moment of the day with activities. Kids need time to be bored so that they can learn to overcome that boredom. One way to help our kids develop a self-sufficient mindset is to set a challenge day (or week or month!). Start by removing all toys and gadgets and work with your kids to create their own fun, without outside influences or tools. When given the space and impetus, kids develop real fun from the inside.
4. Teach them to cook
Teaching our kids to cook from an early age has a huge impact on their attitude towards food and self-sufficiency. It teaches them that they don’t need access to fast-food restaurants or frozen pizza in order to eat, and it gives them an appreciation for real food. From a young age, children can learn to butter toast, make a sandwich or pour drinks. As they get a little older, they can be taught to boil an egg, make a salad and bake potatoes. Age-appropriate cooking tasks can play an important role in helping our kids to develop a sense of teamwork, as they produce food for the family to eat.
5. Fix things
When something breaks, do we throw it away or try to fix or repurpose it? In a highly consumable age, it is much easier to just throw it away and buy a new one, but we can help our kids to learn some independence and creativity by showing them how to fix or repurpose a broken item. If something can’t be fixed, it’s important to also teach them how to dispose of it correctly. Now over to you. What would you add to this list? What do you already do that is cultivating a self-sufficient mindset in your children?
UPDATE FOR 2019: Here are some books on this topic: https://selfsufficientkids.com/growth-mindset-childrens-books/
Eva Van Strijp is a mother of five, business owner and creator of Simple Life, Peaceful Home – the 8-week strategy guiding busy mothers through the process of creating and maintaining a simple, peaceful family home.
When Eva isn’t hanging out with her family or running a business, she’s eating chocolate, listening to podcasts or tending her veggie patch. You can follow Eva’s journey through her Facebook page and Blog.