Take a Couple Extra Minutes
Sometimes I’m slow to catch on to this with every new lesson that needs teaching. Here are some examples.
When Willow was at a good age to join the other girls in Maisy’s room for the daily nap I kept finding her standing on her sleep mat, blanket in hand, several minutes after the others had woken and come down. I kept explaining to her that she could come down when she woke but clearly it wasn’t sticking. So one day I took a couple extra minutes and showed her what I meant. I asked her to lay back down, laid down next to her myself, pretended to snore, then “woke up,” and took her by the hand and marched out of the room with her. We did this a few times in a row. She’s come down on her own after she wakes every day since.
Around the same time I’d also been telling Willow to take her shoes off at the door. I’d been doing this since she was able to walk… so about a year and a half. Finally, one day I stopped and showed her what I meant and, what do ya know, she got it! No more mud trekked through the length of my house every time she arrives or comes in from playing in the back yard!
The most recent triumph is with Emrie. Her mom and I have asked her to take her shoes off at the door for at least a year. Since Emrie is very part time here, it’s less likely I’d be able to teach her how to take her shoes off so I chatted with her mom about how I think she could do it if Katie was willing to spend a little bit of time showing her. Today when Emrie was dropped off Katie had to run out the door to get to school on time. I asked Emrie to take her shoes off, encouraged her, then left her line of sight so she didn’t just wait for me to give up on her and do it for her. And she not only did it, but right after I left the room!
I like to share stories like this because parenting is enough work without doing the things for your kids that they not only are capable of doing, but that make them feel empowered and teach them healthy responsibility. I’m blessed with a day care and so I have less ability to help each and every kid as often as they request so it’s easier for me to find myself encouraging them to see if they can figure it out before I can get to them. With just a little bit of coaching, toddlers around 2.5, give or take, can put on their own shoes, coats (even zip up their coat), fetch their own water, put away their toys, hang up their coats, put away their boots, go potty and wipe and wash their hands, pick out and put on their own clothes, wash themselves at bath time, and brush their teeth. And that’s just the list I can think of right now, I’m sure I’m forgetting something! Perhaps your toddler does something independently that I’ve forgotten to list?