So, I’m facing the facts this week that my baby just officially turned into a toddler (she ran away from me–walking instead of crawling–this afternoon for the first time). So, that means I have 2 toddlers under 3 now. That’s a lot of toddlering in my house. And I also work from home–so there’s a lot of toddlering while I’m trying to bring home the bacon. Luckily, I’ve been practicing these 3 Easy Steps for Fostering Independence in Toddlers. Now, my kids are playing on their own for good, long stretches of time–which is so nice…
3 Easy Steps for Fostering Independence in Toddlers
- Use Verbal Cues. Rather than telling your toddler what to do, ask them what they’re going to do. “Are you going to play on the swing while mommy works?” instead of “go play–I’ll be over here.” This will set the stage for your toddler to think of themselves as making the decision to do something (even if you are helping to guide them). This gives them the tools to make independent choices. Which is the first step.
- Provide Opportunity. If you’re hovering over your kid like the twisted helicopter parent you know you sometimes can be (I’m guilty, too!), then they’re not getting the opportunity to learn how to be independent. The skill can’t grow without some opportunity to sprout. So, back off, walk away, slip out the back, Jack–make a new plan, Stan–no need to be coy, Roy, just let that toddler free. (bonus points to anyone who gets the reference–heh).
- Praise Independent Acts. I know some people are not as praise-ey as I am. I get it. “Catching” a child being good can sometimes be hard. But I work hard at it because I want my kids to have a reason to be proud of themselves–and they only way they will develop that is to know when mom is proud of them. So, I say “thank you for playing by yourself for a little while” or ” good job reading that book by yourself” rather than just being frustrated that they’re done and bugging me again 10 minutes later.
Would you add anything to these 3 Easy Steps for Fostering Independence in Toddlers? If so, leave me a comment below. I’m always looking for ways to add to my parenting-skills toolbox! LOL! And, if you want to know how I got to this point where I could just do these 3 things–check out my post on How to Get Your Toddler to be More Independent which talks about my original plan to get my toddler out of my lap!