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The Hood Magazine

Tips for Teaching Your Child to be Independent

Aug 06, 2020 09:03AM ● By Sanford Health
By: Sanford Health

When your child was an infant, you or another adult probably entertained them for most of their waking hours. Now you’re left wondering why your toddler won’t leave your side or why he or she can’t do anything without your assistance. Independence is a skill you’ll have to teach your child. I can do it myself! Some toddlers are independent and want to do everything by themselves. Others won’t let you leave their sight even while playing. Here are some tips for teaching independence:

• Independent play. If your toddler doesn’t play well alone, start with small steps. If your child demands your attention, start by sitting beside him or her silently, not joining in the play. Once your child’s absorbed in play, move to another part of the room. Eventually move to a different room where you can still supervise your child from afar.

• Don’t hover. If your child is engrossed in independent play, don’t hover over him or her. Ensure your child’s safety, but take a step back while he or she is playing alone.

• Independent tasks. Encourage independence with daily tasks. Putting on a coat or brushing teeth seem like simple efforts to us as adults, but young children have to learn to do these things on their own. Let your child practice these skills daily to get better at them.

• Making choices is very empowering to toddlers. Offering your child a limited number of choices builds self-confidence and decision-making skills.

• Praise play and efforts. If your child is playing alone, wait until he or she is either nearly or completely finished playing. Then let your child know how well he or she was playing alone. Give praise for doing tasks like putting on socks or cleaning up toys. Even if your child doesn’t do it correctly, notice their efforts and let your child know it’s OK to make mistakes.

• The child’s level. Place some items at the child’s level so he or she can be more independent. If you put dishes on his or her level, your child can get his or her own cup, bowl and spoon. Try putting a little milk or water in a small, child-sized pitcher and letting your child pour his or her own drink. It’s important to teach independence so that in a few years, when your toddler isn’t at your side all of the time, your child still feels confident. Be patient and give your child opportunities to practice. Soon you’ll see your toddler grow up to be an independent person.