Milo and Dario are now 3 yrs old and they’re becoming more and more independent as they grow. I love seeing them doing things for themselves as they learn how to navigate this world but it hasn’t always been this way.
Since they were little, I took steps to ensure that they’d be more independent. I let them feed themselves at 1 and I worked hard to set up an environment that would allow them to be more independent. Now, I get so proud when they come to me fully dressed or when I see them pour out their own cereal and set up the table to eat.
At 3 years old, they love doing things by themselves without my assistance. It gives them a sense of responsibility and helps them feel in control. We all know what it’s like to feel out of control in our own lives. It’s important to provide your toddler with opportunities to be independent so that they can learn how to navigate this world.
Here are a few things you can do to help your toddler be more independent around the home. These all look different in each household, so decide what works for you and your family.
Set up your home in a way that allows your child to be more independent by creating spaces that they can use without your assistance.
Here are other ways you can create spaces that promote independence:
Setting the environment makes it easy for your toddler to do things by themselves without constantly asking you for things. It’s not bad for toddlers to ask us for things but if you can create a space where they can get whatever they need, that allows them to make their own decisions.
Open-ended toys are toys that can be played with in multiple ways. These toys are more engaging because they allow your child to be creative and think outside the box as opposed to toys that do everything for the child.
Open-ended toys allow your child to be more independent because they don’t need any guidance on how to play with them. There is no right or wrong way to play with open-ended toys so this opens up the possibility to use them in many ways.
Since open-ended toys rely on the child’s imagination, they can be played with for hours without any boredom. And your child feels control in that environment because they decide what the game is. This promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills and helps your toddler be confident in their decision-making.
Here are some of our favorite open-ended toys.
Performing household tasks with toddlers can be challenging but it’s a great way to help them learn and also bond with them. It also shows your confidence in them and helps them know that you consider them a valuable part of the family. Here are some chores your toddler can help with:
Even if they don’t do all the chores or don’t do them regularly, having them in place and enforcing them will help your toddler be more independent.
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At 2, I realized that my kids wanted to start making some of their own choices so I started allowing them to pick what clothes they want to wear. I would offer them two shirts to see what they would select and now at 3yrs old, they pick their own outfits and can confidently dress themselves.
Offering choices allows your child to feel in control of their own decisions and develops the confidence to tackle different situations.
Here are some ways you can offer choices to your toddler:
Routines help toddlers understand what’s expected and the schedule that will be followed. It’s hard having a routine when your kids spend time in different households but you can still work to create a routine that they can follow when they’re with you.
Create a schedule so that they know what to expect. This schedule could include different activities they’ll be doing that day and the times. Make it visual so they can recognize the different activities and get excited about them.
It can be hard to stand back and let your kid learn on their own. It’s so easy to want to correct them when they make a mistake or don’t do the activity the exact way it should be done, but mistakes are how they learn.
So, unless their safety is at stake, give your child the freedom to make mistakes as they learn.
Helping your toddler be more independent can be a bit challenging because they’ll do things you never expected them to do but with patience, you can help them learn what is acceptable and what behaviors aren’t.
Apr 27, 2022
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