Toddlers love to feel a sense of independence and autonomy in their everyday lives. I have found that the more opportunities I can provide for my (newly) 2 year old to exert his freedom, the more smoothly our days run. He feels more accomplished and I do too! Here are 7 tools we use in our home to promote toddler independence.
1. Getting Ready Station
Trying to get out the door with a toddler can sometimes feel like herding cats. Since we implemented our Getting Ready Station, our toddler knows exactly what needs to happen before we go outside. There is a clear flow to the process. We have three hooks, right at his height, one long sturdy bench (from Community Playthings) and a tower of baskets on the ground to contain his shoes, hats/mittens and socks. He loves picking out a pair of socks, a hat, and shoes/boots all by himself. He also knows where to put these items away after they’ve been washed or we’ve come in from outside.
2. Learning Tower
We have a Little Partners Learning Tower in our kitchen and our toddler uses it many MANY times each day. It has felt sliders on the bottom that allow it to easy move from one counter to the next. He uses it to safely explore and learn in the kitchen, help with meal prep, play with play-doh, wash in the kitchen sink, and a million other activities. It is extremely high quality and spacious enough that he feels like he has a little wiggle room.
3. Art Station
A table and chairs that are just his size are the perfect place to sit and color or draw. This table is in front of a sunny window where the birds gather and eat, and also overlooks many trees. This is definitely an inspiring setting. There are two small glass jars that hold high quality Stockmar crayons and Lyra colored pencils along with quality heavy-weight paper. Using real, quality art supplies helps to produce vibrant colors that are inviting for a toddler and more representative of actual artwork. He often sits down, at his choosing, and works on art projects by himself. It is also fun for others to join him when they can.
4. Large Step Stool
We spent some time examining which areas of our home could be more accessible for our little guy. What we found is that there is a window bench in our home that is just slightly too tall for a toddler to climb up independently, but has an excellent view and a cozy cushion for reading, playing or watching the chickens and cows go by. We added a step stool so that he could reach it all by himself. We also strategically placed the water for the cows directly outside of this window so that we could enjoy watching them together. He loves to sit here and look at books, play or observe the animals. This stool has felt pads on the bottom so that it can also be easily used elsewhere in our home.
5. Cleaning Tools
An assortment of child-sized brooms, from the company For Small Hands (one of our favorite resources) and a child-sized mop from Norwex, allow our toddler to help clean up his messes and maintain our home. If you don’t already have a friend that you order Norwex from, here’s my contact, Tiffany.
It’s amazing how much he likes to clean! I am extremely impressed by the quality of the tools from For Small Hands and Norwex. The mop heads from Norwex are easily laundered and reused.
6. Bathroom Stool
Hand washing is so important, especially as we try and keep everyone healthy over the winter. When our toddler can wash his hands independently, he is much more excited to keep them clean. We placed a small step stool in the bathroom that he can easily climb up on, wash his hands and climb down again. The compact size of the stool means it isn’t in the way for the rest of the family. Our toddler enjoys washing his hands, and we encourage good hand hygiene throughout the day.
7. Small Potty
We start introducing the potty at about 4 months of age through the use of Baby Bjorn potties. (Using the book, “Diaper Free Before Three”.) We start with the Little Potty and move on to the Smart Potty and then to the Potty Chair. This has allowed us to potty train easily and early. We currently have a potty station in the bathroom on a rug that contains a large Baby Bjorn Potty Chair and basket of clean underwear. We have tried many different brands of underwear and our favorite brands are KicKee Pants and Hanna Andersson. Our son still requires some help maneuvering the potty, but we hope this station leads to increased independence when he’s ready.
There are many different ways to promote toddler independence and we hope to implement more as our son is ready.
What are some of the ways you help your toddler feel more independent in your home?