Your child always wanting to do whatever you are doing can get a bit annoying when you are trying to get stuff done. Likewise, it can be frustrating when your child is too scared to try things on their own and clings to you for support.
How can we find the right balance between encouraging our children to grow up independently - without making them grow up too fast?
How CBeebies can help
Watching shows such as Me Too, Balamory or Tweenies can encourage children to have a healthy sense of who they are and help them grow in independence.
Children see themselves reflected in their favourite TV characters and it's just one of the ways that children learn about fairly complex things - such as taking responsibility, starting to be more independent and even being brave enough to try out new things.
Why not direct them to the Mister Maker pages on thew CBeebies website and encourage them to have a go at creating something fun? If they are reluctant, you could make something together first - and then let your child have a go at something else afterwards.
How to make a magic moment
How about making up a silly rhyme or dance with your child? Then, encourage them to make up one on their own, perhaps saying something such as 'Wow, you were so good at helping me with that rhyme/dance, I bet you can make up an even better one on your own.'
Once your child senses your encouragement they are likely to have the confidence to try something on their own, and - bingo - a magic moment!
Within their first five years, children move from total dependence on their carers to becoming independent enough to leave the security of home for several hours a day and attend school.
One of the ways to help with that developing independence can come in the realm of self-help skills. For example, getting dressed. Toddlers swing between wanting to do it themselves and needing help. Of course, easy to put on and take off clothes are helpful to small hands. You just need to make sure that you're close by to encourage and praise, helping for part of the task.
It's always a good idea to break down a complex task into the simple links of a chain, link by link until your child can manage the whole task. This can be applied to getting dressed or, in fact, any task your toddler might attempt.
Some of the most familiar battles with two to three year-olds are about choice... about anything and everything! So, when they have chosen particularly well, praise their choice and tell them why they have been so clever.
Some teachers have found it helpful to tell parents what skills they would hope that the children could do independently by the time they start at school. These might be:
- to dress and undress themselves
- to remove their coat, gloves and hat and hang them up on a peg
- to tie their own laces or fasten their own Velcro on their shoes
- to use the toilet properly and flush it after use
to tidy or clear away toys
to be willing to share toys and take turns
- to wash their hands and faces and use a towel to dry them
- to eat with a knife and fork (provided the cutting up is not too difficult)
- to use a tissue to wipe their nose
- to be able to stay confident without their parents and carer always there.