Easy ways to encourage your child’s independence

If you’re wondering how you can help develop your toddler’s independence, read on!

One of the most rewarding parts of being a parent is watching your baby grow up – and being right there with them along their journey. 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.

10 Tips to encourage your toddler’s independence

  1. Help your child make decisions by offering a small choice of which story to read or what T-shirt to wear.
  2. Give him little responsibilities, such as putting away toys or helping you to get lunch ready.
  3. Get him involved in the weekly shopping. Ask him to get you three apples or to hand you the bread on the bottom shelf.
  4. Show enthusiasm when your child tries to help, even if it will take longer. Recognise any tasks he accomplishes.
  5. 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’.
  6. 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.
  7. Encourage him to self-feed. Yes, it’s messy, but it’s also an achievement that will encourage independence.
  8. 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.
  9. Avoid using the word ‘no’ unless something is dangerous or clearly wrong.
  10. 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.


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