not so little anymore…

Over the last couple of months I’ve slowly come to the realization that my little boy is not so little anymore.  I suppose the first signs appeared towards the end of last school year, but I didn’t take notice until we visited the Eden Project and he did something he’d never done before.   While Hubby and I were busy building a den the Boy announced that he was going to buy an ice cream cone.  We watched as he crossed the courtyard to the ice cream cart.  I remember Hubby and I wondering if the Boy would speak loudly enough that the ice cream seller would be able to hear him.  Needless to say, we shouldn’t have worried because shortly the Boy returned with his ice cream cone in hand and a smile on his face.  Boy with Ice Cream he purchased himself.

While we were camping in Cornwall, I watched him be brave, outgoing, and independent – joining in kids club competitions run by the campground and even winning one.  The Boy paddled in the Ocean and worked hard to successfully divert a stream.  He picked out another proper chapter book to read from a local Oxfam shop and polished it off in a couple of days.

His independent streak has carried on.  He’s taking on more responsibility at home – putting away dishes and silverware from the dishwasher – carrying his clean laundry upstairs and putting it away neatly in his drawers – tidying up his room.  He’s also decided to become a vegetarian and proudly announced to his Nan and Grandad that he plans on being a vegetarian for the rest of his life.  He’s concerned about global warming and protecting the Earth for future generations.  His thoughts are big, clear and coherent.

Boy with babyccino

Last week was his first week back at school and on the walk home from his first day he voiced his concerns that they hadn’t done very much work.  To help him get back into the school routine we sat down as a family created a rewards chart with the following tasks:

  1.  Brush my teeth – Morning
  2. Put away dishes in the dining room
  3. Feed my fish
  4. Read for 30 minutes
  5. Set the table for dinner
  6. Pack my school bag for tomorrow
  7. Put dirty clothes in my hamper
  8. Brush my teeth – Evening

We then set three levels of rewards.  Earning 20 stars got him a trip to the sweets shop.  Earning 35 stars got him a magazine, and earning 50 stars got him something he wanted very, very much, a Lego Darth Vader Minifigure.  In the past when we’ve attempted to use a star chart to promote the formation of positive habits the Boy always lost interest after a day or two.  This time was different.  This time he earned all the stars required for the top prize.  This week he was eager to set new tasks and goals.  He seems very much older than his seven years.  He’s not so little anymore and I don’t think I’d want him any other way.

Have your children asserted their independence lately?  What did they do or say that made you realize they’re growing up?  Do you remember a time when you watched them step outside of their comfort zone and flourish?  I’d love to hear from you…

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60 comments to not so little anymore…

  • Well. Our oldest just got engaged! Yikes! I guess that definitely qualifies as independence. :-) Our kids range from 22 to 8, so it’s interesting to have so many different stages happening as a parent. Our 12-year-old girlie is changing so much, too. She’s so animal crazy and an equestrian (who rarely talks about anything else), and to see her flipping through bridal magazines with our future DIL is so sweet–she’s getting all girlie! Fortunately, our youngest still loves to cuddle with us, otherwise I think I’d be having a hard time with all of this independence happening in the family! Your son is darling–they just grow too quickly!

  • It’s exciting and sad when they become independent! Exciting because they are growing up, becoming more responsible, and able to do fun “big kid” activities, and sad because they aren’t little babies! Time goes to fast!! Your little guy is to cute!

  • I can definitely relate to your post! I have a five year old who just started kindergarten, so I’m just realizing that he isn’t “little” anymore. This is a painful stage for us mother’s but it is necessary. Happy to see that you have such a well adjusted kiddo!

  • My son is 10, and I think it was around 7-8 that we started setting goals. He’s a visual learner so it’s always helped for him to break down big school projects into smaller pieces, or big goals like the next Tae Kwon Do belt. Then we use boxes or something to color in so that there’s a visual component to it. Now he can do it on his own, and think it’s a great tool for the future.

  • Love that he’s so independent! I have two 21 month olds (surviving triplets). It’s so interesting to watch them grow. My boy is ‘ahead’, very curious about everything, and likes things to be his idea. My girl is a bit behind, due to a lot of brain trauma from prematurity, but I love watching her think. She’s very quiet and just watches, then when she thinks she’ll master it, she’ll do it. It’s frustrating, but endearing at the same time! Aren’t kids fun to watch?

  • It’s crazy how “growing up” sneaks up on us, huh? My three year old is always reminding me.. “I’m not going to be little forever, Mom. I’m little now, but I’ll grow up soon”. Boy, oh boy. Sounds like you guys are really enjoying every moment with your son.

  • We did a similar chart, with many of the same chores for our 5 year old daughter who just started Kindergarten this year. She’s all into it, and usually is the one to remind us that we need to put the stickers on her chart at bed time. This is definitely a good method. And, when they mess up, it gives them something to think about. She does not like having blank spaces without s sticker.

  • My son is my first, and I feel like he’s growing up way too fast! I guess all of us moms say that, but there have been many moments lately where I’ve looked at him and wondered where my little infant has gone. Usually when he sees strangers, he comes and hides behind my husband or I. However, he just started preschool a few weeks ago and his social skills have drastically changed (for the better!). While at the park yesterday, he ran up to a little boy his own age and said “Hi. Please play!” It was adorable to see my little toddler put himself out there to make a new friend!

  • I can completely relate to this. My oldest is a Junior in High School, talking about college, ACT, and moving out. Is planning on moving where his cousins are in another state. It happens so fast, my babies are 17, 7, 6, and 4 yrs old. Where does the time really go. Following from Blogelina,

  • liz

    I think independence is a great trait to teach your kids. The more you allow them to do for themselves the more self sufficient they are, which helps build their self confidence. Great job!

  • 19yo big sis just bought her first car and starts her first full time job on Monday. Congrats to her! 2yo munchkin is talking and recently started getting really into pretend play. She is also starting to read. She loves word world and many of the words she recognizes are from there, but I don’t think it will be long before she starts sounding words out. As a reader who taught myself to read at about her age, I’m thrilled!

  • On our sailboat, in the middle of the Caribbean. My son who was ten at the time, was getting our safety harnesses together for our first major overnight passage. The safety harnesses were what we would wear to keep us in the boat. If you fall overboard on a sailboat at night, and you are the only one awake, you won’t be found. I watched how carefully he laid out the harness and the vest and I could tell he was nervous, maybe even scared. Part of me wanted to reassure him about the passage, but part of me wanted to let him work his way through it. I didn’t say anything; I let him be brave.

  • It’s never easy to see them lose that childlike quality and take the next step, but at the same time, it’s rewarding.
    My son is long grown, and I can’t remember a defining moment, but I do miss my little boy!!

  • It’s rewarding to see your kids grow into responsible little adults! I don’t have kids, so I have no defining moments to share, and I can’t remember any from when I was little {yikes!}

  • Wow, how independent he is! My brother (6) also started to amaze me this year. He is getting more confident in front of other people and he often blows me away with mature declarations out of the blue. It makes me so proud of him.
    BTW, I really like your rewarding system!

  • It’s amazing how fast they grow! Mine is only 9 months and it’s amazing to watch!

  • Well, my 11 year old daughter just started 6th grade at the intermediate school here. She is definitely trying to show her independence. They have a tradition where they walk to the ice cream spot nearby after school without parents. She is begging to go by herself! I still haven’t been able to let her go totally by herself, but hang nearby in the car. Now she wants to go to football games on friday nights with her friends without me! I have a feeling this is only the beginning!

    • Is it wrong that I’m already slightly dreading four years from now when the Boy will be starting secondary school here in England? Although that said, I think that age will be about finding the balance between the independence the Boy wants and oversight I desire. It’s hard to watch them grow up no matter what their size.

  • That is so sweet that your ‘lil’ one has formed an opinion about global warming, the environment, and the way he eats. Nice job on the rewarding system – I think the first time I heard about that working was when Melissa Rivers swapped with Bristol Palin on ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’, and Melissa set a reward sticker chart for Bristol’s son as motivation. It really worked. As a child, I had inner confidence, but it didn’t outwardly show in the interactions I had with you’d never know I was confident in my own abilities just by looking at me. I still struggle a bit with it as an adult.

    • I think you’re very right that there are many children who don’t outwardly show their self confidence, but who do believe in their own abilities. Thank you so much for your comment.

  • These are great years for you – watching him grow into the person he will always be. All of my kids are grown and married or soon to be and it is hard letting them go, but go they must and now Dad and I are finding out what we want to be when we grow up!

    • I think every phase we go through as parents brings new challenges. Part of me looks forward to the day when the Boy is all grown up and off to University because I know it means Hubby and I will be able to travel, but part of me dreads it at the same time. Good luck finding the path you’re meant to follow the rest of the way. =)

  • My son is 4, and is asserting his independence more and more. He’s always had “chores” and knows that is expected of him. It is tough to watch them age and need you less, but it is amazing at the same time.

    • I clearly remember the Boy at 4 – mostly because that is the age children start full-day primary school here in England. Cherish your little one, the next couple years will pass in a flash!

  • They really do grow up so fast. I have a 13 and 12 year old and they have asserted their independence in various situations. Although we have promoted and encouraged being independent it’s still a shocker sometimes when they accomplish something you thought they weren’t ready for. My 3 year old is surprising me everyday and I love it!

    • You are absolutely right, it is definitely a shocker when they do something they’re ready for before you’re ready for them to do it. I think letting go and letting them stretch their wings is one of the hardest things about parenting.

  • Rachel

    I always get nostalgic when I recognize the growth in my own daughter. No, I would never want to hold my child back from learning independence. I want her to learn & grow but sometimes I find myself growing along with her. Watching my daughter turn into a responsible little human is sweet, exciting, and emotional all at once. Loved reading what you shared, thank you!

  • My little guy is getting quite grown up too – and it’s so bittersweet. I love that he is becoming such a terrific little man, but boy do I miss that sweet toddler! It’s a good reminder to enjoy each and every day because they pass by so quickly.

  • Your boy is cute! I like the fact he is knowledgeable and independent. My mom always told me I was a little to independent for my own good but later after I was allot older she told me that she was proud that I was that way. I attribute it to my parents they made me that way. You rock for being a great Mom!

  • I don’t have any children so no stories for me to share, but I do have to say that your son is someone to be proud of. :) When you mentioned that he was concerned about protecting the earth for future generations…that just got me. Kids are so intelligent and can be so amazing!

  • Both of my boys are growing up. I just sent my son off to Florida. He’s out there in the big world making his way in his new adult life. My second boy just started school again after a couple of years doing homeschool. I was worried but he learned to walk to school, wake up at the proper time, gather his materials, get ready and ‘gasp’ he is even studying non required work to get ahead in subjects that are difficult to him.

  • Love this post! My children surprise me with what they can do. Mr. 8 loves to help with the trash, really wants to start yard work with Daddy, and can wipe down the bathrooms. He continues to clear the table, vacuum the floors, and numerous other items on a rotating basis with Miss 6. I try to enjoy each stage as they are growing up. The older they get, the more I like the stages and want to capture those moments. Life with 3 kiddos keeps me busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I love how you set goals for him and then rewarded him for accomplishing them! I’ve tried reward systems with my boys, but they never seem to stick. Maybe something similar to yours would work better! Thanks for the idea!

    • We’d tried reward charts before and it never really worked. I think the key was sitting down as a family to pick the tasks and letting the Boy have lots of input about what rewards he would like. Good luck!

  • In the last month, I have really noticed how grown up my 4.5 year old has become. He is concerned with how the big tree in the backyard is going to get cut down and how the guys are going to do it safely. While he has always been thoughtful, he has been especially so when picking out treats for his younger brother. For his graduation from his Phonology (extensive speech) class, he chose to go to Chuck E. Cheese and exhibited his great hand-eye coordination on their games (we don’t let them play video games here). He has asked to learn how to read. I absolutely love watching him grow and flourish, but it also tugs on my heart that he is not so little anymore.

    Same with my 3-year old who just started preschool this fall. His pride in packing his lunch and getting his backpack together has really evidenced how he is starting to grow out of that Terrible 2s & 3s stage into a little boy anxious to learn.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am a sentimental one so I can get teary eyed quickly over the idea of my babies growing up. So I love to hear other mom’s share how they are helping their not-so-littles grow into independence!

  • My 6 year old has always LIKED being independent. And most of the time, he is good at it. But he’s an only child so if he can get me to do something for him, he will. I’ll never forget the time last year when we were in the store and he voluntarily walked up to an employee and asked clearly and politely, “Where are the toys?” I was stunned that he assessed that this guy worked there.

    My son has a list for weekday mornings, school nights, weekend mornings, and weekend nights. But your star system is a great idea! I’ll have to implement that! Visiting from Commentathon.

  • I’m not a mom but I’m super impressed by your not-so-little one’s sense of responsibility! To me, that’s a reflection of great parenting. Putting his laundry away… neatly. I know some adults who can’t even do that! I tell ya, you’ve got one smart cookie there. He’s gonna make some gal happy in say 15 years. :-)

  • What a sweet post! It makes me wonder how my mom might answer those questions in regards to me. Even as a 22-year-old, I know I’m still growing!


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