While it can be instinctive to want to do almost everything for your little one, the truth is you need to resist the temptation. Your child needs to learn how to become independent in order for them to flourish. So what are some activities to promote independence in toddlers?
Learning to be their own person is crucial for helping nursery-age children prepare to go to school, where they will have a greater degree of autonomy. And the groundwork you lay now to create an independent toddler will continue to reap benefits well into adulthood.
In this blog post, we’ll look at everything from independent play for toddlers to some activities around the home that you can start implementing into your daily routine.
7 Activities to Promote Toddler Independence
Your child will have shown growing signs of independence from a very early age. For example, by learning to crawl, toddle and walk and by starting to feed themselves through baby-led weaning.
So how can you take an active role in ensuring that this newfound independence continues into the toddler years and beyond?
Here are some practical ideas.
1. Picking Their Outfit
There are a couple of ways to encourage toddler independence when it comes to getting dressed. First of all, allow your child to pick out what they want to wear that day.
You might encounter a few hiccups to start with: shorts and sandals in the middle of February, for example, but this is how your child will learn what they should or shouldn’t wear depending on the weather or the occasion.
If your toddler insists on choosing wildly impractical outfits, however, reign in the choices for now by presenting them with a number of options.
2. Getting Dressed
Once you’ve got an outfit you can both agree on, it’s time to start letting your newly independent toddler dress themselves.
The best way to teach a child how to get dressed is usually by demonstrating the act of putting on an item of clothing and then letting them have a go.
Of course, they’re going to need some help at first, and you will always need to be on hand to do up buttons, buckles, zips or laces, but as far as activities to promote independence in toddlers go, dressing themselves is a great one.
3. Helping Around the Home
While we’re not suggesting you let your little one loose with the vacuum cleaner, there are a surprising number of household chores that even toddlers should be effective at.
Teaching them to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket will (fingers crossed!) instil this habit in them for when they become a teenager.
The independent toddler should also know that if they make a mess, they are expected to clear up after themselves. This is where a toy broom or dustpan and brush can come in handy!
4. Putting Toys Away
On a similar note, knowing that toys that they’ve finished playing with have a place to live – and it’s not called the floor – is also an activity that will encourage independence in toddlers.
In addition, teach your child that one game, toy or book needs to go back on the shelf or in the box before another one comes out.
Independent play for toddlers is an important part of encouraging self-reliance, but so too is independently tidying up after themselves.
5. Cleaning and Washing
We’re talking about hands and teeth here, not doing the laundry, just to be clear! There are plenty of ways you can teach your child the basics of hygiene – all of which will help foster a sense of independence.
And it’s not just about encouraging your child to clean their own teeth or wash their hands before and after eating. There are plenty of other similar activities to promote independence in toddlers.
For example, show them how to blow their nose after they sneeze and explain why they should cover their mouth when coughing.
6. Choosing Meals
When it comes to meal times, instead of dictating what’s going to end up on their plate, give your child choices.
“What do you want for lunch?” is one way of phrasing the question, but you might like to make it simpler for them to make a decision by asking them to choose between two meals or two snacks.
This will also avoid situations where your increasingly independent toddler demands ice cream for every meal and you have to say “No.” This will only give mixed signals and leave your child wondering why you asked them in the first place.
7. Helping with Shopping
Most young children love helping their parents or guardians. It gives them a sense of worth and achievement and it also contributes to toddler independence.
This is also important if they have an older sibling, as allowing your youngest to help with important jobs like food shopping will help them feel like a valuable part of the family unit. Which of course they are!
Let your toddler help pick out the fruit and veg and add them to the trolley or basket. Encourage them to say thank you to the cashier. And let them carry their own bag home with a few items from the shops in it.
Can Nursery Help Build Toddler Independence?
When your child goes to nursery, they’re spending time apart from you and will become, by default, more independent.
And as we said earlier, becoming a more independent toddler will help get preschoolers ready for attending ‘big’ school. This is where nursery also has a vital role to play in the early development of a child’s academic, social and physical skills, again readying them to make the move.
A good nursery is not just somewhere where parents or guardians plonk their children while they go to work.
It’s a place where little ones take part in a variety of activities – such as arts and crafts, music making, reading, dressing up, and group and independent play for toddlers.
Not only are these activities fun and will help young children make friends, but they will also spark their creativity. And creativity improves decision-making skills which are crucial for establishing toddler independence.
At Little Angels we understand this, which is why we offer the children in our care a wide range of fulfilling extra-curricular activities. These have been carefully designed to encourage development, creativity and independence in toddlers and preschoolers.
They include French Lessons with our partner Les Petit Tigres, our fun and interactive cooking classes which aim to teach young children how to make simple, yet delicious and nutritious meals, and our ever-popular music lessons.
All of these extra-curricular activities to promote independence in toddlers complement the day-to-day activities in our Southwark Bridge and Perkins Square nurseries which include quiet time, outdoor play, reading, messy play, group play and independent play for toddlers.
Find Out More About Little Angels Nursery
At Little Angels we love seeing the children in our care flourish and develop into wonderfully independent toddlers and preschoolers.
Whether you’re thinking about starting your child in a nursery or perhaps even looking to move from another nursery, we believe you’ll love what you find at Little Angels.