Independent Toddler

Behavior & Development • Jan 07, 2020

5 Reasons to Encourage an Independent Toddler

My daughter is flirting with potty training. Recently, after a long shift and just before her nap time, I found myself with a dilemma: we both needed naps, but she wanted to sit on her potty chair for a while longer. I was pretty certain she wasn’t actually going to do her business, so I desperately wanted to scoop her up and put the diaper back on so we could both go to bed. Instead, I let her sit until she was ready to get up – which was probably only five minutes.

Toddlers, and other children too, often want to try things that take a lot of time or make a lot of mess. When I ask, “Can Cora feed herself?” I often hear, “Not really. I always feed her. She’s just so messy.” I totally get it. Most of us are super busy parenting. One more mess, or a longer time to complete a task, is not on anyone’s wish list.

There are several reasons to just power through and let your kiddos do it themselves, anyway:

1 – Practice makes (almost) perfect! S/he will never get good at something and certainly not as soon as s/he could if there’s no time to practice.

2 – Your patience is a perfect role model. It teaches your children that it is OK to try things they aren’t good at. And that they don’t have to give up when they don’t get it right the first time.

3 – Your confidence in your child will spark his/her own confidence. Showing and telling your child that you believe they can and eventually will be good at tasks will prompt him/her to believe that s/he can do that and more.

4 – Motor skills are interrelated. The more your children feed themselves, brush their own teeth and put on their own pants, the better they will be at all of these tasks and more – like holding a pencil and writing.

5 – It’s a great way to teach social skills. “You get a turn feeding yourself for two minutes, then it’s Mommy/Daddy’s turn. Then we’ll switch again.”

Sometimes, you really can’t let your child do it on their own. But whenever you possibly can, let them do it.