Freedom to choose what to do and when to do it. Kind of reminds you of the goal of any toddler huh? Absolutely! Toddlers MUST try things for themselves. They HAVE to do things by themselves! Toddlers CAN, they WILL or there’s the potential for lot of fireworks.
Speaking of fireworks. We celebrate 4th of July in recognition of our Independence. Americans are fiercely independent and cherish our freedoms, so it should be easy for parents to empathize with their kiddos’ need to flex their budding independence. Right?!
It’s All in the Approach:
Patience, empathy, compassion, and kindness go a long way in a working relationship with toddlers. Refrain from the “No” to this and the “Stop” that or the continual “Shhh” and replace it with a mindset of finding possible options for their “Me do it!”
YES! It can be harder, more time consuming and maybe even annoying to let your toddler take the lead. But if you can give your toddler the opportunity to do things without help it will boost their self-confidence and self-esteem. If you let them have options in making decisions it’ll give them a sense of control over their life. And these, in the long run, will help foster their independence.
IMHO, the goal of parenting is to produce self-sufficient, independent, contributing members of society. That doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice. Start your kiddo young, gradually giving them more and more decision-making responsibility. You are your child’s 1st and most important teacher as well as their biggest fan!
Independence TIPS for Toddlers:
1. Have Realistic Expectations—Read what toddlers are developmentally capable of doing. With unrealistic expectations –in either direction—it sets up for frustration or failure for you and/or your kiddo. Why go through the aggravation? There are many child development books available to educate yourself.
2. Provide Routines—Routines give children a sense of comfort and stability. However, your routine shouldn’t be rigid. A rigid routine, or schedule set in stone, will stifle your kidlet’s emerging independence. Plus you’ll want the freedom to accommodate moments that make LIFE special. For example, a spontaneous side trip to your local park to see the leaves, up-close and in-person, turning color. Check the tab under About for a schedule with a loose framework of a routine you can use! There are also suggestions for activities!
3. Give Choices—Whenever possible offer choices. Only offer choices that would be acceptable to you if they were chosen. Giving choices is one of the best ways to foster independence.
Picking out what to wear—or part(s) of the ensemble
Selecting their beverage of choice
Deciding on the bedtime story
Opting what materials to use for art activity
4. Set up PLAY—Hands-on, free PLAY provides children with ample ways to practice their decision-making skills. And the great thing about making decisions in a PLAY setting is there are no real serious consequences attached! So let your child PLAY away because #PlayMattersInChildhood!!
Yours in Play!