A few weeks ago, my son had a friend over for a sleepover. This friend is just a few months younger, but they are in the same pre-K classroom and have developed quite a wonderful friendship.

I let the boys stay up late watching movies and playing superhero games because, why not? When I finished up the project I was working on, I told the boys it was time to brush their teeth and get ready for bed.

The friend went straight into the bathroom and started brushing his teeth. My son came to me so I could brush his teeth.

And suddenly I noticed that I might be babying my child, without even realizing it.

T is 5 years old. I’ve had him try brushing his teeth a few times, but there is always leftover food. So I take his hand and guide him to show him how to get those more difficult back teeth. I’d like to help him practice more often, but most nights I am just too tired. I’d rather brush his teeth and just be done with it. He’s never had a problem with this.

Until recently, I was also buckling his seatbelt every time we got into the car. Then I noticed his friend was buckling his own seatbelt. It hadn’t even occurred to me that this was something T could do just fine on his own. Sometimes I forget, but for the most part I have finally started having him do it himself.

It’s not a conscious choice that I might “baby” my son. These are just things that haven’t even occurred to me as tasks he is perfectly capable of doing.

Like most parents, I want my son to grow up to be a strong, independent and intelligent member of society. He already pretty much is. He’ll be reading before Kindergarten starts this fall, he can do basic math, he uses proper grammar and (usually) enunciates quite clearly. He helps me make dinner, makes his own sandwiches, pours himself milk out of the small pitcher I have especially for him, and he is (almost) always up for helping me out with daily chores.

But when one of these seemingly small tasks pop up that I notice other children his age are doing on their own, I wonder if there is some subconscious part of me that might be trying to hold on to my baby for just a little bit longer. Or am I reading too much into it?

I always say that parenting is a learning process. This is my first (and possibly only) kid. I’m as new to parenting a 5-year-old as I was caring for a newborn when I was 23.

It’s all about paying closer attention. Now I’m opening my eyes and seeing what else he might be perfectly capable of doing himself. A lot of our dishes are in lower cabinets – could he be ready to unload the dishwasher himself? Maybe he can start washing himself in the tub now. He’s got to be almost tall enough to steer the vacuum around the living room.

I plan on talking to T about all the things he can do now that he’s 5. He’s always excited about new responsibilities, so it’ll be interesting to see his take on this.

Do you encourage your child to do things on his own? Have you ever caught yourself “babying” an older child without meaning to?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Roxanne of Nevada, USA.  You can find Roxanne at her editorial website, RoxannePiskel.com, and her personal blog, Unintentionally Brilliant.

Photo credit to Pink Sherbet Photography . This photo has a creative commons attribution license. 

Roxanne (USA)

Roxanne is a single mother to a 9-year-old superhero (who was born 7 weeks premature), living in the biggest little city and blogging all about her journey at Unintentionally Brilliant. She works as a Program Coordinator for the NevadaTeach program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Roxanne has a B.A. in English from Sierra Nevada College. She has about 5 novels in progress and dreams about completing one before her son goes to high school.

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