“Help me to be responsible by myself”
Helping toddlers control their impulses and understand what is expected in many situations is a long process. It can become a bit smoother if you keep in mind the basic needs of the child.
They need to be involved in activities that are purposeful, interesting and challenging. When we are able to have this happen they become increasingly independent.
The key things to remember when doing this is to:
1. First create an environment that fosters self-discipline: one where activity is possible, where there is friendly attitude to make mistakes, where inner motivation is nurtured, and where there are predictable and consistent limits.
2. Second is giving them choices.
3. And third, make time for your child to do these activities at their own pace and respect their work and play.
As adults we don’t really enjoy doing the dishes or the laundry but at stage that the toddlers are in they absolutely love these things. They see mom and dad doing it and they want to be part of that and help too. Giving them the opportunity to do this helps them understand the routines and ways of the life they are becoming a part of. This makes them feel secure and happy and because they are more connected to life, they start to become aware of the consequences of the things that they do.
The activities they enjoy doing are centered around two things, taking care of themselves which makes them feel independent and taking care of their environment/home.
Some activities we have in the classroom that they can do at home as well are
- Dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning windows
- Laundry: sorting, loading/unloading, and folding
- Kitchen: setting the table, loading/unloading dishwasher, washing dishes
- Misc: grocery shopping and feeding pets
It is important to keep in mind that: your child does not work as you do. In fact, the end result may be messier that when they began. This processes is far more important to their growth than having clean floors. When weighing out the outcome for the long run I believe it is more important that they begin to develop this self-discipline when they have the desire to do so than having to convince or bribe them to do so in the future when they are older.
Setting limits teaches a basic life lesson that we can’t have everything we want. We are all influenced by the way we were raised and we will either accept or reject what we experienced as children. But there is still middle ground between overly permissive and a very strict approach.
Sometimes it may be difficult to set limits because we don’t like to say no or because we want the child to be happy above all else. Unfortunately if we take that approach they will not learn to accept limits or how to deal with disappointment
A child under three is not a reasoning child and wants what they want. They can’t think about what is safe, appropriate, or even possible, so it up to the adult to set and maintain the limits.
Give them choices that you are willing to do or you will be happy with either decision they make.
- What they want to eat
- What they want to wear
- What they want to play with
Be sure to not use choices to manipulate or threaten your child. For example ‘Do you want to eat your dinner or do you prefer to go right to bed?’ This makes your child feel that they are not really allowed to make choices. Give them choices that you are comfortable with either option as their choice.
With time and consistency you child will realize that there are situations where they will have the opportunity to make a choice and other situations are not negotiable.