Self Reliance: 10 Ways to Teach Children How to Pack Their Own Bags


Whether your children are going for an overnight at a friends, a weeklong trip with Grandma and Grandpa, or to class at their Powerful Words academy, make it easy on everyone by showing them how to do it all by themselves. Self reliance comes when children feel comfortable and confident in their own abilities. Packing their own school bags or vacations bags is an opportunity for your children to build self reliance.

10 Ways to Teach Your Children How to Pack Their Own Bags

Dr Robyn J.A. Silverman

As we know, as parents, it’s often easier, quicker, and, let’s face it, often more skillfully done if we do it. However, as Powerful Parents, you know the importance of allowing children to try things on their own, make some mistakes, and learn something from the experience.

(1) Talk to your children about Self Reliance: If you are already a member of a Powerful Words school or a Powerful Family member, you have a leg up. Your children will be hearing about different ways to be self reliant all month long. You can piggy back on what the teachers are talking about in class and bring it into your car or home to the dinner table. Together, brainstorm some ways that everyone in the family can be self reliant—at which time, you can challenge and encourage your child to start packing is or her own bag.

(2) Let them know what’s happening: Tell your children about any vacations, trips, overnights, or special classes so that they can start to mentally prepare. Have them start thinking about what they’ll need for their special vacation with Uncle Steve or their overnight at Taylor’s house.

(3) Teach them how to make a list: If your child is old enough to write, s/he will be able to start a list of what s/he’ll need to put in the bag. Younger children will need more help then older ones. Check the list after they think it’s complete. If something’s missing, like a toothbrush, simple ask a question like, “what will you need to get ready for bed at night and when you get up in the morning?” Allowing them to come up with the answer will reinforce their abilities to become self reliant.

(4) Designate the bag: If your children are frequently going on a trip to Grandma’s house or goes to their Powerful Words academy every week, make sure they have a bag that is specifically for that situation. That way, they won’t keep taking things out and putting things in—which means things will be forgotten and lost. The bag should be big enough for what they need. Help them to choose the right bag for themselves. If it’s for your Powerful Words school, get a bag with the school name on it so that it’s labeled for that purpose.

(5) What should always be in the bag? Help your children determine some things that stay in the bag at all times. For example, if a special notebook always needs to go to school or class, teach your child to keep it in the special bag.

(6) Teach them how to figure out how much they’ll need: Make some simple equations. Number of nights= number of pairs of underwear. Number of days= number of pairs of socks. Number of hours in class at your Powerful Words School= X amount of water bottles.

(7) Have them get dressed in their minds: If they’re going somewhere hot, have them pretend to get dressed and talk out loud about each article of clothing they will need, for example, underwear, shorts, t-shirt, sandals, hat, sunglasses, bathing-suit and sunscreen. They can do the same thing for class (i.e. t-shirt, uniform, special shoes, socks, any protective/special gear). They can even look in the mirror while they’re doing it so they don’t miss it.

(8) What will they do while they’re waiting? Teach your children to prepare for what they need while they are in action and what they need when they are sitting still. What will they do in the car, on the plane, in the waiting room, or during a break? Whether they are traveling far distances or simply waiting while their sister is taking another class, they’ll need to think ahead and pack accordingly.

(9) Have them check off everything on their master list: As each article is packed, teach them to check off the item on their list. Did they pack their camera? Check. Did they pack their belt? Check. Do they have their homework or project? Check. Allow them to check off the items so that it reinforces their own self reliance.

(10) Allow them to make small mistakes: While we can’t have them forget their airline tickets, if they forget to pack their favorite stationary for writing, chalk it up to learning. They’ll remember it the next time. Similarly, for class, if they forget part of their uniform or homework, they’ll learn a lot more from feeling unprepared than they will from you going back home to get it for them. While it’s difficult, teaching self reliance comes from trial and error as well as from direct teaching from you.

This month, why not challenge your children to learning how to pack their own bags? Do they have a trip coming up? When is their next class at their Powerful Words school? Becoming responsible for ones own things and becoming more self reliant as they develop, is part of growing up to be a Powerful person!

Here’s to positive child development!




5 Responses

  1. This is good stuff. I find this to be true as a parent and as a teacher.

  2. […] Self Reliance: 10 Ways to Teach Children How to Pack Their Own Bags […]

  3. […] in tasks on their own if they’re ever going to learn how to do them well. Laundry, shoe-tying, packing their own bags, making the bed, and are great places to start. Older children can handle more and should! Learning […]

  4. […] children check everything off before they leave. This is a great time for children to learn how to pack their own suitcase (even if you look everything over) for the trip. We want them to have what they need! Fussy, […]

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