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Encouraging Independence in Toddlers

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    The journey towards becoming an independent adult starts in babyhood, with your child wanting to try things for themself.

    You may find it hard to keep up when your baby, toddler or pre-school child switches from being demanding one minute to being clingy & afraid to let go of you the next. Such rapid mood swings are common - and may even take your baby, toddler or pre-school child by surprise sometimes! Encouraging independence in toddlers and pre-schoolers

    It helps to try to understand the emotional world of a small child and the confusion they often feel.

    Developing independence. You can encourage your baby, toddler and pre-school child to be more independent by doing the following:

    • Expect some behaviours - defiance and disobedience, or refusing to comply with your requests, are normal parts of your baby, toddler and pre-school child’s growth into an individual.
    • Follow your baby, toddler and pre-school child’s lead - if they wants to cling to you, let them; if they wants to do things his own way, go along with it as far as is reasonable.
    • Use distraction - you may find it impossible to get your baby, toddler and pre-school child to follow orders without upset. So use diversion tactics, or allow them to make choices and offer them some control and choice.
    • Avoid orders and ultimatums - lead and teach rather than getting into power struggles.

    A lot of the time, though, your baby, toddler and pre-school child will just do the opposite of what you want. They may run off when you try to dress them, for example, or tip out toys you want packed away - they just can't help themselves, it’s all part of growing up!.

    They may also seem to resent almost any form of control by you. They want to get dressed by themself and feed themselves - the contrary behaviour that results from this is quite normal, even if you find it irritating.
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