Encouraging Independence for Toddlers

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” –Maria Montessori

 

Children are capable of so much more than we usually expect. Independence looks different depending on the age of a child, but every child can show independence. Here are some benchmarks of independence for those in our Toddler program (15 months to 3 years old).

 

CARE FOR SELF

In an organized environment, toddlers can:

  • dress themselves.
  • engage self for brief periods of time.
  • walk to class without being carried.
  • carry their belongings (backpack, lunch, and coat) to class and place them in the cubby without parental help.
  • open and close their lunchboxes & containers.
  • feed themselves from an open cup.
  • eat while sitting in a chair (no highchairs).
  • go to the bathroom independently as long as their clothes are not a hindrance.
  • entertain themselves without the TV, computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • help brush their teeth and hair.
  • put on socks and shoes by themselves.
  • eat with utensils.

 

CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT

In an organized environment, toddlers can:

  • clean up and put their toys away in an orderly environment where items have a place.
  • help prepare meals i.e. wash vegetables.
  • water plants.
  • help with gardening.
  • clean up spills.
  • help wash the car.
  • help sweep the floor.
  • put some laundry away.
  • be respectful of other living creatures.
  • help with chores at home such as putting away dirty dishes or help make a bed.

 

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

In an organized environment, toddlers can:

  • let others finish a sentence before interrupting to ask a question.
  •  follow social expectations of eating/ drinking in designated areas and times.
  • learn to deal with frustrations without having a parent anticipate and solve problems for them.
  • use words or signs rather than whine.
  • resolve conflict without physical actions.

 

THE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE IN NEVER EASY

Children aren’t perfect, and neither are we. For children up to 3 years old, it is OK:

  • if your child is not independent at times.
  • if your child needs to be carried sometimes.
  • if your child makes a mess. He can help clean it up.
  • if your child complains a bit about doing what she has been asked to do; stand your ground!
  • to be the parent and not a friend. “You have to love your child enough to let them hate you.” —Carol Burnett
  • if your child is crying or whining when he comes into class; just let him go and he will be fine. We will call you in the event he does not settle down.
  • if your child makes mistakes. It allows her to learn on her own.
  • if your child is brought to school in their PJs if you have had a particularly difficult time that morning.
  • if your child brings leftovers for lunch.
  • if your child is not eager to do academic work when he gets home.
  • if your child is assertive about her needs or feelings—this shows valuable self-awareness.
  • if your child thrives under repetition; he relishes the ability to master a skill and use it.