Discipline & Guidance
As your child moves beyond toddlerhood and into the preschool years, you will observe an increase in independent behavior. Oftentimes parents will hear the phrase, "I can do it myself!" This is a sign that she is developing her own sense of identity and abilities. Now she is ready to try new, more challenging tasks. It is also the prime time for parents to begin to instill a sense of satisfaction for a job well done. Keep in mind a child's opinion about her capabilities is directly connected to her parent's or caregiver's response to her!
A parent's role in fostering independence is to:
- Provide love and support
- Encourage exploration and curiosity
- Teach skills
- Allow your child to make appropriate choices
- Show enthusiasm for attempts towards independent behaviors
- Provide an emotional safety net when failed attempts lead to frustration
- Set limits so that she doesn't feel overwhelmed by too much freedom
Ways parents can encourage independence:
- Allow her to make choices about what clothes to wear, and dress herself.
- Buy clothing and shoes that are easy for her to manage alone. (e.g. Velcro closures instead of buttons or laces, elastic waist pants that are easy to pull up and down, and outfits that mix and match).
- Provide her with opportunities to help at home. Show her how to pick up her own toys and put them away, fold wash cloths, set the table, and feed the pets.
- Provide some 'child sized tools' such as a small broom, carpet sweeper, stepstool, watering can for plants, rake, laundry basket, etc.
- Teach her how to introduce herself to new friends.
- Use specific language when praising her for independent behaviors. For example say, "I like the way you picked up all the blocks and put them on the shelf" instead of simply saying, "Good job."