While babies naturally grow more independent as toddlers, there are plenty of ways that parents can support this independence in their day-to-day activities. The result can be a toddler who is more secure and confident—and, yes, more independent.
Pave the Way to Independence With These Tactics
At a high level, Pampers notes, you’ll want to childproof your home and then give your toddler a chance to independently play and otherwise engage with the surroundings. Although it can be challenging for parents, this includes accepting the fact that toddlers will “climb, run, fall over, bonk, and explore.” The natural reaction for some parents will be to try to protect the child against everything. Within reason, though, the Pamper expert says, let them fall, responding calmly to encourage them to try again.
When practical, let your toddler do things on their own. Child Care Resources notes how activities like putting on their own shoes, emptying their own backpacks, and so forth will take more time, which requires patience. Whenever possible, though, let them do these tasks, ones that prepare them to become a more independent toddler.
Also, offer choices. Which of these two healthy snacks would your toddler like? The red pajamas or the blue ones? By offering choice, you’re helping to avoid a power struggle between you and your toddler who is increasingly having their own opinions.
Phrase your words carefully, too, so that your toddler knows if something is a choice or not. If you want your child to make a choice, the National Association for the Education of Young Children advises, be clear about that by saying something like, “Would you like to use your purple cup at lunch or the striped one?” Then, let your toddler choose and get the cup, assuming that it’s located in a place where this can be accomplished.
If something isn’t a choice, say, “You need to put on your coat now.” Providing clarity can help to prevent frustration for both parties as your toddler grows and stretches their limits.
Toddlers like routines, so maintain predictable ones to create a secure environment for them to explore and gain independence. For example, if you always read two books at bedtime, then it’s established there won’t be three. (This isn’t to say that your toddler won’t try to push the limits!) Toddlers also like to know what’s happening next, so give cues. “I’ll be there to pick you up from childcare after naptime” or “It will be time to put away your Legos in ten minutes.”
Toddler Care Programs at Horizon Education Centers
At Horizon, we offer quality toddler care programs that help your child to grow and become prepared for preschool. This includes cognitive development activities, teaching and reinforcing self-help skills, social and emotional development, and language and literacy skills with focuses on physical health, positive peer interaction, and the development and enhancement of valuable life skills. In short, our program helps to develop independent toddlers. To find out more, explore our centers today!