Independence: Ten Tips

Ten Things You Can Do at Home to Encourage Independence

Independence in Dressing

Offer clothes that allow for independence: shirts that easily pull over her head, bottoms with an elastic waist, Velcro-style fastenings, and snap fastenings that she can do for herself.

Make a few choices of your child's clothes accessible by hanging a low bar at child height for clothes on hangers. Provide a child-sized basket or hamper for dirty clothes.

Provide a low mirror and a child-sized brush and comb for combing hair.

Independence in Toileting

Your child should have access to a small toilet chair, which is different from using a stool to climb up and sit on the family toilet. (A stool to the toilet works very well once she is toilet-trained and climbing one or two stairs independently.) She needs to feel secure when manoeuvring onto and sitting on the toilet, not at all concerned that she might fall in.

Provide a stool for access to the sink for hand-washing and tooth-brushing. This stool could also serve as a low seat for changing underpants.

Independence in Eating

Empty a low kitchen cabinet for your child's small drinking glasses, a small jug (pitcher), bowls, plates, spoons, and forks, each with their own place or container in that cupboard.

When choosing dishes, find child-sized versions made of breakable materials, not plastic. Your child will learn how to handle objects with care by occasionally dropping something that breaks. Breakage should be handled in a matter-of-fact manner, without anger or scolding. Children quickly learn to hold dishes with care.

Children are more likely to eat something if they have helped prepare the food. Small children can peel a mandarin orange or a banana if you start them off.

Independence in Sleeping

A low bed from the beginning gives your child the freedom to move around. It allows her to wake up and crawl off the bed in the morning. Toys placed on a low shelf will often catch her attention upon waking.

Create a routine that helps your child understand that it is bedtime. The routine may differ in every family, but whatever you choose, make sure it is one of diminishing activity: Play time, bath time, story time, sleep time works perfectly. Story time, bath time, play time, sleep time is a recipe for conflict!