At the age of two or even three, it may be hard to picture our little ones making their own decisions – what to wear, which activities to do, what to eat. Too much leeway may result in disastrous results, but it is important to give them some independence in their developmental years.
So how do we let our children take the reins, without letting them wear pyjamas to a family dinner or eat ice-cream for breakfast?
Here are 5 ways recommended by Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse’s child development specialists to help foster independence in your child.
- Assign ‘age-appropriate’ tasks
It will be a tall order to ask your child to tie his own shoe laces, when he might not even know which foot to put his shoes on. Start with simple tasks such as placing toys back to their original spots after he’s done playing with them, or even making his own bed.
When they first start school, our younger students might be unwilling to try feeding themselves, as it is a habit for them to be fed by an adult. To guide them, our teachers encourage them to try feeding themselves, and help steer their sometimes unsteady hands towards their mouths. “The smiles of victory when they manage to feed themselves are simply priceless,” says Ms Debra, a Lady Birds class teacher.
- Hold back on the help
When your child faces a road block in the task, it is a natural inclination to step in to help. However, keep to the mindset that every mistake is a learning opportunity. It is all about finding the positives in the negatives! Provide suggestions or steer the conversation in a way that provides room for problem-solving. For example, instead of saying, “That’s not how it should be done,” try “Let’s see if we can another way!”
- Offer choices
Yes, we do want to give our children the autonomy to make their own decisions, but how do we ensure that they don’t veer off track? The key is to narrow down the options in order to set boundaries. To ensure they won’t be eating ice cream for breakfast, ask if they would prefer having cereal or a peanut butter sandwich instead. That way, the final decision still lies with them!
- Make it fun!
Turn the seemingly mundane task into a game by setting a time frame to complete it! For example, compete with your child to see which one of you are able get dressed and be ready at the doorway in 10 mins! This way, you can eliminate the once long drawn process of getting dressed.
Even if the result is far from perfect, which child doesn’t like being praised for his or her efforts? “In class, our children are praised when they are focussed or show enthusiasm at the task they have to do,” says Ms Carmen, an Artsy Fingers teacher. “It’s all about how they are willing to try out new things!”
Be generous with your words of encouragement, celebrating each milestone and mini accomplishments with a “Great job on wearing putting on your socks correctly!” or “You’ll do it much better next time!”
Toddlerhood is certainly a crucial time in a child’s life. The simple act of not bursting into tears every time he or she says goodbye to mummy at school is the right step in the direction of self -reliance. It is important to remember that instilling independence, especially at this tender age, requires a lot of a fair bit of time, not to mention patience!
By easing our children into completing simple tasks by themselves, it helps them feel that they are in control of their actions, which develops their sense of agency.
As educators and your partners in education, these tasks help us identify their capabilities, so we can nurture our children to become resilient leaders of tomorrow.
About Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse’s Vitamin C Character Development Programme
The Vitamin C programme emphasises on good values which we believe will help our students throughout their journey in life. We aim to build a bond of trust between child and teacher, focusing on the need to lead by action. By doing so, we hope to empower them into becoming caring members of society.
For more details about our curriculum, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Schedule a tour with us today – https://www.kiddiwinkie.com.sg/sign-school-tour/