The growing independence of a toddler

It takes the whole first year for your child to realise they’re a separate person from you. This can be a confusing time for children and parents as toddlers swing between being super-independent and clinging to you.

Top 10 Tips

1. Be patient! It’s a bit like walking a tightrope – your toddler needs to be able to learn things for themselves, but they also need your encouragement, guidance and protection. Getting that balance right can sometimes be tricky.

2. Your toddler will probably like helping you with jobs around the house so involve them in simple tasks like dusting, watering the garden or passing you the washing to fold. This way they’re close to you, learning from you, and gaining a sense of independence.

3. Get outside. Natural materials – such as water and sand – remain some of the best playthings because they require imagination and creativity.

4. By the time they turn two, your child will have quite a vocab. They will be able to understand at least 200 words, and be able to use more than 50.

5. Try responding to single words your child says by repeating the word back to them in a full sentence.

6. Your toddler may start to show empathy for others, such as giving another child a cuddle. You can help develop empathy by describing how people are feeling.

7. You can build on the learning your toddler is doing at home by enrolling them in early childhood education. There are teacher-led and parent-led options available. Choose the option that suits your child and your family best.

8. One of the benefits of ECE is children learn to make friends. They also learn to share, take turns, and to cooperate.

9. You may notice your toddler gradually becoming involved in ‘parallel play’ – playing alongside another child but not interacting. Once they’ve mastered this, they’ll engage in ‘associate play’, playing with the same equipment as another child, but not actually playing together.

10. ‘Cooperative play’ – where a child plays with another child – can start early if they’re used to playing with other family members, but otherwise it happens closer to the time they start school.

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