At birth, a baby is entirely dependent on his parents. Then, the autonomy slowly appears when baby begins to crawl, to walk on all fours, to seize an object, and continues for several more years. The more the child gains autonomy, the more he feels he has some power over himself, objects and others.
Encourage without overprotecting
Between 18 months and 36 months, your child begins to really want to do things by himself. However, it is not yet certain to get there. He needs your encouragement and to feel that you think he can manage to eat alone, to get dressed or to put his toys on the shelf, for example.
To protect him or avoid frustration, some parents sometimes slow down the momentum of their child’s autonomy. It is at this moment that can arise the crises of “No, all alone! In addition, a child who is overprotected may become anxious, insecure, fearful and unskilled.
When your child is independent, he feels safe and protected by you.
Despite the difficulty of doing certain tasks, in the beginning, your child will still believe in his abilities if you support and encourage his efforts. On the contrary, if he has difficulties and you criticize him, are impatient or punish him, he may feel ashamed and not believe in him. The development of its autonomy could then be slowed down.
Do not worry though, if you are late one morning, you dress your child yourself. He will put on his clothes himself the next day. The important thing is that he has as many opportunities as possible to practice his new skills. Similarly, if your child is very tired and can not put on his own pajamas, do not insist and tell him it will be easier when he is rested.
Even if, initially, your role is essential to encourage your child to become independent, he gradually learns to find in himself the motivation to make choices and decide what he wants to do. Little by little, he realizes that he is able to make his own decisions, to control his actions and that makes him proud. It develops a feeling of competence and efficiency.
Small responsibilities to grow
Let your child do little things by himself. He thus becomes aware of his limits and his strengths. He builds his self- esteem and develops, little by little, his sense of responsibility.
Here are some ideas of responsibilities to be given to your child, the goal being to involve him, even if the task is not perfectly executed.
18 months to 3 years
- Take out your toys from the bathtub.
- Wash hands and wipe (under supervision).
- Wipe a small amount of damage (eg a little water or milk ) on the table or floor.
Try to avoid stereotypes when you give small responsibilities to your child. For example, your son can sweep, while your daughter can help you shovel.
3 years to 4 years
- Hang his coat on a hook within his reach.
- Put your clothes in the drawers.
- Clean up his place at the table.
4 years to 5 years
- Pour yourself a glass of milk.
- Help rid the table.
- Dust a piece of furniture (without trinkets on it).
Tips to accompany your child in his quest for independence
Avoid continuing to treat your child as a baby, when he is no longer one. For example, always having it in your arms. Encourage him to do little things by himself and practice his skills.
Offer him choices. Your toddler learns to make decisions and satisfy his need for autonomy while having some power over what happens to him. However, give him only 1 or 2 choices (eg, “your blue sweater or your green sweater?”), Otherwise, he may have trouble making up his mind.
Respect his rhythm. Pay attention to the signals your child sends you. For example, if he’s fidgeting in your arms, he might want to try to move on his own, and if he grabs the spoon when you feed him, he might want to try to bring it to his mouth himself. However, offer him tasks and challenges that are appropriate to his age and abilities, even if you can not wait for him to do some things on his own. Otherwise, you risk putting him in a situation of failure, which could hurt his self-esteem and his self-confidence.
Although it is essential to the development of toddlers, the quest for autonomy is not always easy. It is done slowly, with trials, victories, and crying.
Teach him how to do it. Instead of taking your 2-year-old child up or down the stairs, show him what to do and let him go up or down, staying next to him to help him if needed. Likewise, if you want your child to take part in certain tasks, explain to them what you do (eg, “See, I put the glass here, and the utensils there”).
Always allow an extra 10 minutes to your schedule when your child starts doing things on his own. You will recover the time spent to make your child independent later when he will do more things alone.
Accept that it is not always perfect. If your child wants to dress alone, the colors of his clothes may not always fit well. Do not stop at this detail, rather rejoice in front of his new skills.
Accept small mistakes, damage, and clumsiness. If he spills milk while filling his glass, try to restrain your mood movement. Instead of scolding him, offer him to help you clean up. Make sure that cleaning is not considered a punishment, but rather a normal gesture after a damage.
Guide your child without doing in his place. If your child can not put on his coat because it is upside down, ask your toddler questions to think about how to do it instead of turning the coat over and over. put him on. For example: “Do you need help? Where are the sleeves? », Etc. In other situations, share the task with your child: “Try to put on a shoe, I’ll help you for the other”, “We’ll put the toys together. ”
Encourage him to find solutions. You convey to him the message that you have confidence in his abilities. For example, if your child is angry because he can not find his second shoe, ask him to show him how to look for an object: “Where could she hide? Where did you see it for the last time? Have you looked around your room? », Etc.
Avoid always intervening in disputes between children (unless they come to blows) and, above all, take sides for one or the other. Ask them what they could do to solve their problem. If they do not know it, suggest a solution, but without imposing it: “Maybe … You could try such a thing …”
Praise your child. The “Bravo! “Congratulations! “I knew you were capable! And “You’re a champion” increases her self-esteem and confidence in her abilities. Also value his efforts, even if the task is not quite successful, for example: “Try again”, “You can exercise”, “Next time, it will be better”, “You have improved “. Your encouragement encourages him to persevere.
Console your child if he/she cries after a failure.