Like it or not, your baby will grow up. And it’s quite a roller-coaster ride into toddlerhood. Here’s how to encourage your toddler’s independence.
As your child leaves his baby ways behind, it can be a real roller-coaster ride of emotions. It’s important to let your child develop without holding back his progress. Feeling redundant is normal, but it’s important to let your child get on and explore. Just because he’s no longer a baby, doesn’t mean that you are any less important to him.
Encourage your toddler’s independence with these tips:
- Help your child make decisions by offering a small choice of which story to read or what T-shirt to wear.
- Give him little responsibilities, such as putting away toys or helping you to get lunch ready.
- Get him involved in the weekly shopping. Ask him to get you three apples or to hand you the bread on the bottom shelf.
- Show enthusiasm when your child tries to help, even if it will take longer. Recognise any tasks he accomplishes.
- Praise your toddler’s ability. This is necessary for a child to believe he is capable of doing things, and that it was his own skill that led to success, rather than luck. For instance, tell him how ‘clever’ he is for throwing the ball into the hoop, rather than ‘that it was lucky’.
- Tempting as it is to say, “I’ll do it”, rather say “let me show you how” instead. That way your child is learning new skills and not just relying on you to do everything for him.
- Encourage him to self-feed. Yes, it’s messy, but it’s also an achievement that will encourage independence.
- Point out why things are dangerous or unacceptable without belittling the motivation to do things on his own. For example, using a sharp knife to help with dinner may seem like a good idea when your child has seen you do the same, but a butter knife is more appropriate.
- Avoid using the word ‘no’ unless something is dangerous or clearly wrong.
- Respect your child’s feelings and fears. Even if it seems silly to you. Ask him why he is afraid and take time to talk to him about it.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.