As dads, we want to do for our children. While helping our kids is certainly necessary, teaching them how to gradually do more for themselves is a major parenting goal, too. Helping your toddler learn to perform some simple tasks for herself can increase her confidence and independence and be a big help to you in the course of a busy day. Here are 4 ideas of ways you can develop an independent child out of your toddler.
1. Picking up toys.
I’ll never forget the morning I returned to my church’s Sunday School program to pick up my two-year-old and found him happily putting things away while singing, “Clean up, clean up—everybody, everywhere! Clean up, clean up—everybody do your share!” It had never even occurred to me to require him to actually clean up the playroom at home—I guess I thought he was still too little. But if your children are old enough to physically pull a toy out of the bin, they can be taught to put it back when play time is over.
But if your children are old enough to physically pull a toy out of the bin, they can be taught to put it back when play time is over.
2. Dad’s helper.
Lots of parents have another baby while there’s still a toddler (or even two) in the house. Help your older child play an important role in taking care of the new baby by bringing you or mom things she needs: a diaper from the changing table, a burp pad or bib from a low shelf, or a blanket to wrap the baby in. The big brother or sister will feel needed and proud to be the “big kid” who can help the parents.
3. Setting and clearing the table.
Your three-year-old can easily take a handful of flatware and set them at each place before dinner (It doesn’t have to be perfect.), and can help after the meal by taking his plate and cup to the kitchen sink to be washed.
4. Helping to make her bed.
This is especially do-able if your little one sleeps in a toddler bed that she can easily reach across. Again, perfection is not the goal here—don’t worry about military corners. The idea is just to train your child that tidying the bedroom is her task, and that she can do it.