How to Foster Independence in Your Child

You might notice that your child needs a lot of help at home with everything from putting on their clothes to washing their hands, but then, at school, they seem to know how to do everything on their own. It’s important to support independence in toddlers both at school and at home.

Let’s look at the leading ways to ensure your toddler is building skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

The importance of children acting independently

It’s a critical developmental step for children to act independently. From a psychological perspective, children will learn a sense of self-confidence early on. It will also strengthen your bond with your children by showing them that you trust them and are confident in their abilities.

From a behavioral perspective, toddlers are striving for agency earlier than you might think. Allowing them to act independently avoids many of the power struggles that are par for the course at this age. By allowing your toddler to have some autonomy, you reduce the opportunities for them to express unmet needs through bad behavior.

And for busy parents everywhere, when your toddler is able to do simple tasks, like putting on their shoes, it means you don’t have to do it for them. It can be quite a relief!

Tools for fostering independence in toddlers

Before you dive in and have your child do everything on their own, you’ll need to think about how exactly you want to accomplish this. Remember that it all won’t happen overnight. Like so much with parenting, progress will be difficult to see—a lot of two steps forward, one step back.

One easy thing to do is to get a step stool for your child. Find one that’s tall enough that they can reach the sink and wash their hands on their own. You want a sturdy step stool that ideally has railings or other safeguards to prevent accidents.

The mental game

You also need to get your mind right before embarking on what will likely be a challenging, long road. You need to accept that everything your child begins doing will take plenty of time. Whether it’s providing help with chores or going to the potty on their own, it will take months for them to get it down. Be a patient presence; allow them to make mistakes; and, when possible, make these routine tasks fun.

There are plenty of ways to meet your child halfway. For example, when it’s time to brush your child’s teeth, let them start and learn the motion; then you can come in to make sure they’ve done a good job scrubbing. You can also ask them to help with a task like picking up toys instead of expecting them to do it on their own.

We hope this guide to young children and independence is helpful. If you’re looking for a caring community for your child, My Second Home Early Learning Center has offered a variety of services since 2007, including daily nondenominational Christian education with a Bible-centered curriculum. Our programs teach more than basic subjects—we also teach children how to care about themselves and others. Contact us for more information or come visit us today.