July 9, 2020

Helping your toddler gain some independence

child fingerpaintingIf you have a toddler, chances are you’ve heard him or her say, “I’ll do it!” more than a few times. By the time your baby reaches toddler-hood, he or she is ready to take on a number of little tasks on his or her own. Not being able to do so can cause frustration.

Giving your toddler independence will help your child develop self esteem and other life lessons that will be important at a later time. You can help your toddler gain some independence in the following ways:

Allow your toddler to make decisions.
One way you can help your toddler gain some independence is by allowing him or her to make decisions that affect him or her. For example, lay out a few different shirts in the morning and ask, “Which shirt do you want to wear today?” or, when it’s time for a bath, you can allow him or her to choose a toy or two to play with.

Encourage independence.
You can also help your toddler gain some independence by encouraging it, and there are many different ways you can go about doing so. For example, many parents will rush to their child and fuss over him if he tripped or fell down. As long as the child is not hurt, cheerfully tell him he’s ok and encourage him to get up by distracting him or her with a toy or game. This will help your child gain independence and prevent tantrums by letting him or her know you aren’t going to rush to his aid every time.

In addition, verbal praise and encouragement like, “Good job!” and “You can do it!” and “Keep going!” go a long way in helping your child gain some independence. Other ideas include letting your child pull his or her underpants up during potty training.

Make your environment toddler-friendly.
This doesn’t mean getting everything breakable out of reach; instead, arrange  your home so that it is easier for your toddler to be independent. For example, install coat pegs that are at a level your child can easily reach by himself. Or, give him Velcro shoes or clothing with large buttons that will allow him to change in and out of clothes easily. Provide step stools that allow your toddler to get up and down to brush their teeth and wash their hands.

“Help” without letting your toddler knowchild cooking
You can help your toddler gain some independence with more difficult tasks by helping in an unobtrusive manner, like making sure clothing is unbuttoned or unzipped before putting it on, or items are placed within the child’s reach so he or she can get to it without asking for help.

Let your child help you.
Children love to help, and knowing that they are “helping” around the house is another great way to encourage independence in your toddler. Simple tasks a toddler could do that will help him gain independence as well as learn responsibility include cleaning up toys when done playing with them, putting clothes in the hamper, getting items from the refrigerator for you while making dinner, and so forth.

Helping your toddler gain some independence not only helps your child’s ability to do things for himself grow, but also his or her self confidence. The above tips are just a few ways you can help your toddler gain some independence.