Tag Archives: self-reliance


Here at ARM we’ve resolved to master independent living skills for the New Year. While it’s satisfying to check off all our abilities, there are still many that need work. We invite you to join us as we tackle each new task, adding to our competencies.


If you dropped off your older teen and a friend at a casual, sit-down restaurant, would he/she know what to do?

Follow some simple steps to equip your kid appropriately.

  1. LOOK FOR SIGNAGE. Does it say “Wait to Be Seated” or “Sit Anywhere”? Follow the directions.
  2. WAIT LIST. If your teen doesn’t like waiting, have a Plan B ready. This would be his responsibility.
  3. MENUS. Either the waitress/waiter will bring them or they’ll already be on the table.
  4. PICK. Decide what you want to eat and be ready for the waiter to take your order. 

    Give your teen the confidence to eat out by preparing him in advance.

  5. PLACE ORDER. Make sure you have enough money for what you order!
  6. SOCIALIZE. While you are waiting for your food to come, talk with your friend(s). If you need a refill for your drink, get the waiter’s attention and ask politely.
  7. BON APETIT! When your food comes, enjoy.
  8. CHECK, PLEASE. When you and your friends are finished and ready to go, ask your waiter for the check. Some restaurants ask you to pay at the check-out counter. Others will take your money for you.
  9. REMEMBER TO TIP. 15-20% is customary. Maybe your kid can do mental math with no problem. It never hurts to have and know how to use a tip calculator app.  

    Don’t forget to tip your waiter!

Practice these steps when you dine out as a family. Have your teen say how many are in your party. Have your teen alert the waitress when you’re ready for the check. Have your teen figure out the tip. The more you do this the easier it will be when he or she is on his own.

Good Luck inching toward that all-important self-reliance…

Ideas for a Summer Project

For most kids, school is out for the summer! Yay! Put their leisure time to good use by agreeing on an independent living skill to master and work on it all summer.

Back when my son had just completed 4th grade, we practiced going to the market and buying groceries all summer. By the time he started 5th grade, he could walk into any grocery store on his own and pick up a few items for his mom who didn’t want to get out of the car [that was my excuse anyway]. Our local market had a self-check aisle which was perfect for him. We did lots of rehearsing, with me shadowing, then he’d shop and pretend I wasn’t there [but I was].

Independent Shopper!

Independent Shopper!

His “final exam” was when I actually remained in the car and he went into the store with a list of a few items and some cash. I remember he came out once to tell me that the kind of applesauce we always buy wasn’t available, and he was unsure of what to substitute. But we discussed it and he went back in to complete his mission. [Lucky for him and me that he didn’t walk out of the store carrying the other items, or we’d have a totally different subject to talk about here!]

Anyway, summer is a great time to hone your child’s skills in a variety of areas. Remember to take baby steps—three to five steps at a time. Here are a few ideas:

  • Laundry [HINT: The easiest one to start with is washing, drying & folding towels.]

    Folding Towels is an Easy Skill to Master.

    Folding Towels is an Easy Skill to Master. Parents must be willing to give up expectations for “hotel-style” folding — at least for a while.

  • Operate the washer & dryer
  • Sort clothes
  • Be familiar with detergents, fabric softeners, stain removers and bleach
  • Select the correct water temperature for different fabrics
  • Select the correct drying cycle
  • Clean the lint screen after each use
  • Fold clothes and put them away


  • Wake up on his own in the morning
  • Set and use an alarm clock
Alarm Clock

An important step to self-reliance!


  • Know how to exit apartment/home in event of an emergency
  • Know when and how to call for emergency services
  • Know when to call 911—and when not to
  • Know how to lock and secure all doors and windows
  • Know basic first aid skills or how to get added assistance when needed

Cooking        [teach him to prepare two dishes for each meal]


Another crucial step in teaching your child self-reliance.

With patience, understanding and a whole lotta practice, you and your child will have a productive project for the summer that will result in an important life skill by September.

Have fun with it and good luck!