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How to Encourage Development and Independence in Toddlers

by Tiffany Raiford, studioD

Having a child means taking on the responsibility of teaching your very small child to develop and become more independent. Your toddlers rely on your guidance and help to achieve their independence and to develop. It’s not always easy to sit back and watch your toddler struggle with something, but sometimes it’s necessary to do exactly that in order to help your little one develop and become independent.

Play disappearing games with your toddler. You can start playing this game with your little one when she is a baby so that she gets used to seeing you, and then not seeing you, and then seeing you again. This will help her to develop the thought that just because she cannot see you doesn’t mean you are not there. Try peeking around a corner at her, saying boo, and then hiding behind the corner again. Do this repeatedly. She will find it delightful on top of developing a sense of security that even when you're gone you will always come back.

Tell your child when you are leaving him and make absences short to begin with. Your little one will grow more independent when he spends time away from you. While it’s best to let him wander off to play rather than you leaving him, according to Dr. Sears, you still need to let him know when you are leaving, even if you’re just leaving the room. For example, if you are playing in his bedroom and have to get dinner on the stove, tell him that you will be leaving to go to the kitchen. It’s better to prepare him for your absence than to rudely surprise him by sneaking out. If he starts to whine, cry or fuss when you leave his room, call out to him that you’re right there. Your voice presence might be enough to satisfy him, which is a step in the direction of an independent little guy.

Stop rushing to her side and let her solve her own -- minor -- problems. Each time you let her figure out how to get her princess doll’s hat back on the doll’s head you are encouraging her development and independence. She’s learning to do things on her own rather than relying on you to solve all her problems and be there to fix everything for her. For example, if she’s upset because she can’t figure out how to get the pillow back on the couch, offer her a little encouragement but don’t get up to help her. She’ll figure it out and be a better person for it.

Allow him to help dress himself and feed himself. Instead of spoon feeding him his yogurt or applesauce at meals, let him learn to feed himself by providing him with a spoon and his meal. Let him dress himself. These activities will help him develop the ability to be more independent and more helpful around the house.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

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