5 Ways To Encourage Independence In Toddlers

5 Ways To Encourage Independence In Toddlers

The years of toddlers should be some of the most joyful years for you and your child. These children grow by leaps and bounds—walking, talking, laughing, singing, helping, and gaining new life experiences every day. Your child now has foods she loves and favorite toys; she has her own likes, dislikes, and opinions. She is naturally developing independence. Despite all this progress, this age range is sometimes called terrible because children may have some challenging behaviors.

Here are tips for parents to make the toddler years joyful!

1. Provide opportunities for your child to be independent. Toddlers can carry their own lunch boxes, put toys away, put their shoes by the door, and help with chores like putting clean laundry into drawers.

2. Give your child time to do simple tasks on his own. Children at this age can do many things older children can—it just takes a little more time. When planning your family’s schedule, add extra time for things like putting on shoes, walking to the car, emptying a backpack, and feeding the dog. It’s worth it to make them feel capable and independent.

3. Offer your child choices. Let her pick out pajamas, healthy snacks, and favorite play activities. Rather than setting up a power struggle between you and your child, empower her to make her own choices.

4. Choose your words wisely. When giving your child a choice, ask a question: “Would you like to put your coat on in the bedroom or in the kitchen?” If something is not a choice, make a statement: “You need to put your coat on before we go outside.” Being as clear as possible about what he can and can’t decide for himself as you support your child’s growth and independence will reduce frustrations for both of you.

5. Avoid engaging in daily power struggles with toddlers. Developing independence can mean children do or say the opposite of what an adult asks, just to show their power. If there’s a behavior that’s particularly important to you, be consistent each time a struggle begins, and make your expectations clear.

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