Fostering Independence in Your Toddler - 4 Ways to Encourage Your Kiddo to be Independent

by - Tuesday, November 26, 2019

This post is sponsored by Earth's Best Peanut Butter Puffs but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Raising an independent child is something I'm truly striving to do. This may be hard to believe, since I mean, I've openly admitted I have an issue, at times, with being a helicopter parent... but it's something I'm working on, I swear. The thing is, even though it's taxing and sometimes down right maddening debating with a toddler - I'm always excited to hear her speak her truth and that is why it's all worth it. Every hissy fit over a tiny misunderstanding, every crocodile tear shed over a mishap, every little ounce of drama she creates... it's all tough to deal with at times, but it's all a great reminder that she's this amazing, magnificent, overwhelmingly awesome little person and she's just expressing herself.

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Now don't get me wrong, we don't encourage her to throw fits at the store after we tell her "no". But hey, it happens and instead of spanking her or abandoning ship and heading out to the car, I've learned that reasoning with her and discussing why she feels upset truly does help. I mean, it may not have a year ago, but now that she's so much more vocal - it only makes sense to discuss her feelings with her.

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I mean, Delainey isn't a perfect child, by any means... She's extremely emotional about 99% of the time so we are constantly having discussions, but with encouraging her independence I'm seeing some major changes in her behavior and well, that just warms my heart. Maybe I'm doing something right, after all? I think we all know that warm, endearing feeling.

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So I guess you're probably wondering what types of changes we made to fight the toddler struggles of terrible twos and terrifying threes?



How exactly have we encouraged Delainey to be more independent lately...? Here's the scoop:

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The first step we took toward independence was encouraging her love of mysteries. She's really been into the idea of "vestigating" [see also investigating] all kinds of things lately and I'm 100 on-board with it.


From being curious about where electricity comes from to asking me to uncover a stone with her in the backyard, I've been going full force and encouraging her curious behavior in a healthy and productive way. Wanting her to solve the mysteries herself, I set her up for success and sit back and help when asked. I love watching her make discoveries and analyze situations and I've also seen her use those same problem solving skills in situations with her peers and sometimes even when she's negotiating with me.

Plus, we've learned new things and we've also solved some mysteries! Being a "detective" with my little firecracker is truly helping her come out of her shell and she's "blossomed", if I can humbly brag for a bit.


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The next step we've taken on this path to independence is allowing her to call the shots. 

 

Well, sometimes we let her take the lead, anyways. She doesn't "rule the roost", but she is often in charge of decisions that effect her, as we see fit.

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One of the first decisions I noticed she LOVED making was what to have for snack time. From fruit to crunchy munchies, she's always looking for something new to try and she's always excited to shop the organic section at Walmart. So when she saw the delicious Earth's Best Organic Peanut Butter Puffs (with Elmo on the front), I already knew it was game over and she had found a snack she loved.


As soon as she saw it, she grabbed the package and told me "dis one, mama, I want dissss"! I was curious about what she had picked, but once I saw it's an ideal snack for toddlers and made of only 5 ingredients, I knew that we 100% we had found a snack we could agree on and she was thrilled to grab a couple of bags!

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This a great "starter snack" for her. These delicious, dissolve in your mouth treats are something we both can enjoy and appreciate... but the best part is, it's so easy just to grab a pack and go!

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Want to give these yummy Peanut Butter Puffs a try? Hit up Walmart or get more information on the delicious, toddler friendly snack here!
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I promise, you and your toddler will be huge fans of this easy, delicious snack!

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Another step we took to foster independence in our wild girl was letting her learn new things on her own.

We've struggled through worksheets in the past and I've tried coaching her on how to properly get a toy to work, but allowing her to completely learn to do something on her own has been life changing for us both. Instead of tears of frustration, we now spend our time peacefully waiting as she has decided she will be the one to feed herself, brush her own teeth, dress herself, etc. It may be time consuming and sometimes I have to redo her work, but seeing her satisfied with herself after accomplishing a great "feat", I'm not changing this for the world. That look of success and her absolutely beaming pride as she's accomplished a new task, there's nothing like it in the world.

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The last step but possibly the most important step since it relates to all the other steps, is CONSTANTLY reminding myself to let go and let her live.

I mean, I'm still fully involved since she's a tiny little nugget in the scheme of things, but I try to let her do her thing more often than not, as I nervously watch every step from a far. With growing her independence, she's become truly her own person and I've had to let go even more recently and it's been such an amazing, bittersweet feeling. One of the many recent ways I've really had to "let it go" was allowing her to choose activities she wanted to do and watching her form her own friendships. It's been amazing to see who she is becoming, but man, no one warned me this all would happen so quickly. She went from a baby to this strong, capable little kiddo in the blink of an eye.

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While it may sound crazy, the independence seems to help her in so many ways, from gaining confidence in herself to better listening skills - we are really in a good spot. I''m curious, do you have a toddler as well - if so, how do you foster their independence? If your little one is in a different stage in life, I'd still love your input, after all - we're all on this journey together and hey, as they say, "it takes a village".

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Did you know introducing foods containing ground peanuts at a young age and continuing consumption may reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy by 5 years of age? For more information check out this helpful video on allergen introduction.



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