Little ones look up to big ones

If there's one thing that I've discovered as a parent of a rambunctious preschool boy, it's this: little ones looks up to big ones.

I discovered this dynamic when my bean was small and we started taking him to the park. The first few park visits, he stood wide-eyed watching "the big kids" running across the structures, climbing, jumping, etc., and suddenly, my normally-cautious little guy was trying his own tricks (and scaring the bejesus outta me). He was fascinated when my friend's kids, who were older, did "big kid" things, like use the toilet, eat on their own with utensils, and even dress themselves. It made him want to be more independent.

And now I see it with my bean and his younger cousin - only a few months younger, his cousin watches his every move, trying new foods when he sees my bean scarfing things like humus and attempting number one at the potty after my son has done his business.

Which brings me to this conclusion: want your child to enter a new milestone? Seek out a head's up older child to demonstrate the aforementioned milestone and you'll quickly see your little one emulating them.

We don't want our children to necessarily be "followers" (my first thought when I saw my son at the playground testing the adage, "anything you can do, I can do better")... I still allow my son to choose his own clothes every day (even if it is a mismatched superhero top with stained at-home sweatpants). But if seeing his older friends put on their winter gear solo, for example, also means he's going to attempt getting dressed on his own, then I'm all for it.

Sometimes an older sibling can encourage more independent behaviour (but, sometimes, the younger one is used to seeing his older brother or sister do "mundane" things like use a toilet, so the effect is lost on them). But you may also have to recruit an older child that you've noticed your child looks up to. Perhaps a local teenager or "mommy's helper" could come over one day and encourage your little one to eat nicely at the table with his/her utensils, figure out how to put on socks, do clean-up after a play session, and so on. It may just be worth the $10/hour (the going rate for today's babysitters).

A full-time work-from-home mom, Jennifer Cox (our “Supermom in Training”) loves dabbling in healthy cooking, craft projects, family outings, and more, sharing with readers everything she knows about being an (almost) superhero mommy.