I’m not sure what my toddler can do by herself. I want her to be independent but I don’t want to push her too hard as she is only 2.3 years.
If she goes to school, the first step is to ask what she does solo there. In many schools, toddlers put their own lunch on shelves, take off coats and shoes (maybe with a little help), put bags where they go, roll up sleeping mats, and clean up. Toddlers also help set tables and clear their place before and after a meal. It is almost unbelievable what toddlers can do when you give them space and a chance to do it. They really do sooooo much more than many would expect. How do you get started, you might ask? (maybe not, but you ARE reading this so…)
Mentor your toddler. Show them how to put pants on by laying them flat on the floor and talking about putting one leg in and then the other. Have them put unbreakable dishes and cups in the sink, and put a stool nearby if they cannot reach. Toddlers can clean up their messes and put their toys away. Basically, if you are about to do a task for your toddler, take a moment and see if they can do it themselves.
Giving kids the opportunity to “DO” promotes a strong sense of self. This is where self-esteem comes from and we know how important that is. Kids who are allowed to try and fail and try again grow bolder and more confident. They believe they CAN do a task so they will jump up and try. When we swoop in and do things for our tiny toddlers, they learn that they CAN’T do things and that they’re helpless – so why try?
Give them a chance so that they learn that they CAN do things, and that they are capable. This is a lesson that they will carry with them for a lifetime, and it can also take some work off of you (Ummm, sometimes it makes MORE work too, but that’s what being a parent and mentor is all about).
It is our job to help kids navigate the world – and that is not an quick or easy task. Go into situations assuming that your tiny toddler can do what you need them to do. Sure, there may be a little spill or mess, but that’s what paper towels are for. They may get frustrated but that’s a-okay. Life is full of frustrations, but the elation and pride we feel when we power through to accomplish things makes the frustration worth it in the end.
No, you are not going to have a toddler mow the lawn or do laundry, but they CAN feed a pet, bring you some towels from their room to be cleaned, and so much more. Our job as grown ups in the lives of our kids is not to maintain the status quo or to keep things simply moving in a day (even though sometimes that IS the easier thing to do). Our job is to mentor and challenge kids so they can grow and try and achieve.
Step back and be amazed at what your toddler can really do! I have many in my classroom who amaze me each and every day – yes, 2-year-olds, teeny tiny toddlers. We all just need to be given a chance to discover just how much we can shine.
Brandi Davis, ACC, is a professional Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by www.childandfamilycoaching.com.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.