It is no secret that toddlers try to test their limits and see how much they can do on their own. This is actually a good thing, as it helps them to develop skills ranging from gross motor skills to problem-solving skills. Use the following tips to encourage your toddler independence.
- Encourage Bravery Daily: This is a simple trick that works with children who are over the age of two, but it never hurts to try this with younger children as well. Greet your child every morning with an encouraging, upbeat phrase such as "Good morning, Champ!" When you tuck your little one in every night, slowly say "I believe in you" as they are about to fall asleep. The positive reinforcement will encourage your toddler to be brave and try different tasks.
- Give Them A Choice: Another way to encourage your toddler independence is to give them choices. You can ask them questions such as "Do you want cereal or waffles for breakfast?" and "Do you want to wear your red or blue shirt today?" Make sure you stick with their choice so they can feel more confident in their decision-making skills.
- Give Your Toddler A Chance: Does your toddler know how to dress themselves or put on their own shoes? Let your toddler start completing these tasks on their own. You may be tempted to take over if they are getting frustrated, but the best thing you can do is coach them through it and then ask if they need help. If you know your toddler will need extra time with these tasks, start the routine earlier than usual.
- Assign Age-Appropriate Chores: Assigning age-appropriate chores encourages your toddler to be a little more independent. You can start by making a list of chores that are right for your toddler, such as putting their toys away, putting their dirty clothes in the hamper and throwing away their own trash. You can also assign tasks that allow them to help around the house, such as helping you feed the pets, set the table and sort the laundry. Your toddler will feel a sense of responsibility whenever they complete a task, and this will help to boost their self-esteem.
- Allow Extra Time: When you are working to encourage your toddler independence, it is important to give them the time they need to complete each task. Does it take your toddler ten minutes to brush their hair in the morning, and another ten minutes to put on their pajamas at night? Start the routines ten minutes early so your toddler has time to brush their hair or get dressed. It is more important to keep your child calm than to turn each task into a race against the clock.
- Praise Their Efforts: It is important to praise your toddler rather than point out what they may have done wrong. If your toddler puts their shoes on the wrong feet, praise them with "Wow! You did a good job putting on your own shoes!" Your toddler will realize something is not right with their shoes. If your toddler is fighting with their zipper and finally asks you for help, say something along the lines of "I am so proud of you for trying to zipper your own jacket!" Follow up the praise with an encouraging phrase such as "I bet you are going to do a great job tomorrow!"
It is important to encourage your toddler independence, as it gives them the confidence they need to try things on their own. Your toddler will want to try different tasks as they grow older.