Fostering Independence in young children {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

I want my little babies to grow up to be strong, smart, self sufficient, capable adults SOMEDAY!  As it is, they are growing up way too fast.  I want so badly to just hold them and keep them to myself.  But I don’t.  I let them explore and learn and grow and I relish in the fact that I am able to be home and experiencing it with them.  Maggie and Charlie are two very different little people and it is teaching me new ways to help them gain independence.

fostering toddler independence, Our Piece of Earth

Being a babywearing, extended breastfeeding mama, I have had my share of people telling me how they would never learn to do things on their own.  I don’t get it nearly as often now as I did with Maggie.  People see her and would never know that she had a lot of the same traits when she was a baby.  She is so outgoing and friendly and EXTREMELY INDEPENDENT!  To the point where she can drive me crazy with it.  She wants me to help her go to the bathroom, but what she actually wants is for me to go in there, sit on the side of the tub or clean the bathroom while she pulls down her pants and undies and sits on the potty.  She wants me to hand her the roll of toilet paper and that is it.  When I am in the middle of doing something, it is very frustrating to have to stop and go sit in the bathroom.  But….she is learning, and she is doing it herself.  She just likes to have me there just in case.  And since I now that I won’t always be there, I am going to be there as much as I can while she wants me.

Fostering Independence, Our Piece of Earth

Watching them make mistakes is part of them learning, but watching them do something wrong can be very difficult as a parent.  We want so badly for them to succeed, and remembering that failure will help them succeed can be very difficult.  Many times, when I should be cleaning, instead, I’m standing there watching the kids learn.  I see them struggle as they try to figure out how to do something but they just haven’t figured it out.  I could ask them if they want my help, but I don’t.  Instead, when I see them frustrated, I talk to them.  I ask what they are trying to do and alleviate the frustration.  Then?  Well, sometimes we work on it together, or sometimes she will walk away, or, she may even figure it out now that she has a clear head.  I ask questions.  What are you trying to do?  How do you think we could do that?  Is there another way we could maybe do it?  I want her to have the chance to figure it out on her own and work out for herself how to make it happen.  When Charlie builds that tower of 2 or 3 blocks for the first time and you realize YOU WERE IN THE SHOWER when it happened, you watch as he does it again and let him know you are watching and that you see how hard he is working on it.  Seriously, this just happened and I was so excited for him.  I remember when Maggie reached that milestone and I was just as excited then.  Just this week, at the park, Maggie wanted to go on the big playground –  a little bit scary for her tiny self.  As long as I stood nearby, she kept bouncing back between I can do it and help me please.  In the end, I stood there with my hand on her back and she climbed the curvy ladder all by herself.  Charlie’s newest challenge – trying to put his own shoes on.  We are working on it.

Fostering Toddler Independence, Our Piece of EArth

I often struggle when it comes to making decisions because I am so worried about making the wrong one.  I want my kids to grow up confident in the choices they make, knowing that it is okay to screw up sometimes.  With toddlers, those choices start out small.  Maggie gets to choose her clothes.  I give her a lot of choices during the day.  Not so many that she gets overwhelmed, but enough for her to have some control.  When I give her choices, I make sure they are all acceptable choices.  That way, I can say yes to whatever she chooses.  When you 2 year old comes out of her room, dressed in her own style, or with backwards pants or an upside down sweater, you may want so badly to fix it, but you don’t.  You sit back and smile because she did it herself.  And you go to your toddler class with her dressed that way.  And feel awesome when the teacher comments on how great it is that you didn’t “fix” it.  Then, you pay yourself on the back for your parenting awesomeness.


Give them responsibility.  Maggie and Charlie have a cupboard where their dishes are kept.  They, well, mostly Maggie right now, is responsible for getting her own dishes out.  She also puts away her dishes when they are clean.  They are both expected to help clean up their toys and put their books away.  Maggie does the cutest thing….when the dogs come in and they are licking their empty water bowl, she pushes a chair over to the sink, grabs the water dish, and fills it up for them.  I have to follow behind her wiping up spilled water, but I think it is so cute.


Parenting is so full of challenges and doubts.  What we do today can affect them forever.  It is scary.  Helping foster their independence now in the early years can make them more able to cope with life as they get older.


How do you help foster independence in young children?

Tuesday's Toddler Tales button

Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This weeks topic is on fostering independence in young children.  Next week’s topic is on dining out with toddlers.  Link up any post, old or new.


    • It is so hard! But their joy over accomplishing or experiencing something new is so wonderful! Thank you.

  • I feel like I’m failing at this so much. My daughter is 2.5 and still has EXTREME separation anxiety with me. I can’t even pee with the door shut. And trying to leave her at church nursery…ain’t gonna happen. I just keep reminding myself that it won’t be that much longer that she wants me to be there with her every step of them way.

  • My son is 13 months and just started walking a few weeks ago so I’m getting my first taste of toddler independence. Since he started walking, he has been way less dependent on me throughout the day and less interested in sitting and cuddling. It’s a little sad, but I still let go and let him run free. I can’t wait for him to start doing more things on his own. I’ve even caught him trying to put clothes on himself a few times!

    • It’s hard when they start to gain that independence. You want them too, but you don’t want them to grow up too fast.

  • I agree- give them responsibility! My kids have all felt so good about themselves when they have a job to do, even the barely verbal two year old putting away the tupperware from the dishwasher. Does she do a great job? No. But she feels good about contributing to the family and is learning early independence.

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