I’m sure you have heard the phrase “terrible two’s”. Are two year olds really terrible? No, they are just so new to the earth and need some guidance. In fact, we really do not like that phrase. Toddler years can be a difficult time (for adults too), but it is also such a rewarding few years.
Toddlers crave to be independent and are in a sensitive period for language. They sometimes have a hard time communicating what is needed. Especially if they are tired, hungry, ill or something is just off. There are usually power struggles in these delicate years.
To minimize these power struggles and encourage independence we want to allow children to do for themselves when possible. This will help build self-confidence and encourage development in other areas. Environment, allowing time and modeling are important factors in allowing for a toddler to do for himself.
Creating a toddler friendly home is important. Low shelves with a few different baskets of toys helps encourage organization and makes clean up easier. Eliminate toy boxes to reduce clutter. If you have been in a toddler classroom, you will notice every material has a place it belongs. Puzzles are on the shelves with the pieces in a basket on the left side of puzzle. If a child sees an undone puzzle he is more inclined to finish it. A small table and chair should be available for your toddler for snack and work time. Your toddler prepares their own snack and pours their own water at school. There is also access to child sized dishes and cleaning supplies (brooms, mop, towels). Having these opportunities at home is important and helps the child feel confident.
Here are some tips for your toddler at home:
- Help set the table.
- Pour own water and drink from open cup.
- Put dishes away after eating. Put out a small trash can for your toddler to scrape their uneaten food into.
- Pick out own clothing with few choices. Choose clothing your toddler can easily take off and put on.
- Put own clothes, shoes and jackets on.
- Clean up own toys.
- Water plants.
- Feed animal.
“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves and which keep them from being a burden to others because of their inabilities. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.” (Maria Montessori)