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If you are dreaming of being a more “hands-off” parent, then you are in the right place. I am constantly working on different ways of teaching toddlers independence because this twin mama cannot handle all of their needs at once and frankly, I don’t see why working on teaching these things has to be put off for when they’re older.
This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx on behalf of Oroweat Organic
Why I Wanted to Encourage Independence Young
If you took anything from my site title, I have twins, and as a twin mom we learn just about every work around for getting the most done with minimal excursion.
From the beginning as a mom of multiples you’re pulled in every which way with an overwhelming number of needs and wants. It is freaking EXHAUSTING.
So I quickly began finding little hacks that would allow for more to get done that I could actually handle. For example, my twin babies had a LOT of tummy time because it was something they could easily do that benefitted them, but also myself. I had a huge play yard that I’d throw some balls in or other objects they could reach for and try to play with and let them go at it while I stayed close by checking things off my list.
Since then I’ve added in a few things at a time all with the focus of encouraging them to be independent and not only has it helped me out, but it is helping them grow their self-confidence which is a huge goal of mine as someone who practices positive parenting.
What is positive parenting?
I think many of us have our own personal descriptions of what positive parenting is, and honestly you can read a much more in-depth version of what positive parenting is professional speaking here. But as for my own take on it, I look at positive parenting as a way to help my kids build self-confidence by looking at the longterm affects of how I handle various situations.
Don’t get me wrong. I mess up a LOT. I am no where near perfect. But as often as I can I try to keep in mind what I am teaching them through each interaction we have. Working on teaching my toddlers independence plays really well into this because while I am encouraging them to do small tasks on their own, I am celebrating every step.
As someone who has always struggled with self-confidence and worth, I want my kids to grow up with someone in their corner celebrating them regardless as well as someone who helps them understand that they can do hard things.
We can dive a lot deeper into my opinions on positive parenting another time, but in the mean time check out my friend @ohhappyplay who loves to share positive parenting tips!
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Easy Ways to Begin Teaching Toddlers Independence
There are seriously so many ways to get started on teaching toddlers independence, but here are ten that I would highly suggest!
1. Celebrate all efforts
Kicking it off strong with my #1 ultimate tip. You have to celebrate them. Now this doesn’t have to be anything more than a high-five but some level of praise should always be given when they try to do things themselves. It can be really difficult when that means celebrating after a big mess was made, but giving them that positive message will help them grow that confidence in the best way possible.
I’ve worked the most on this when potty training K. Even if she got pee all over the floor or made a mess with the toilet paper, I let her know her intention was great (something like “great job taking yourself to the bathroom babe!”) and follow it up with something about messes happening sometimes and teach her how to clean it up.
2. Let them pick out their clothes
I never thought I’d be the one walking around with a little girl in mismatched clothes, a princess dress, and shoes on the wrong feet, but here I am. I think it is so important in helping them learn that independence to let them pick out what they want to wear whether it be from two or three outfits you already have picked out, or opening up the closet and asking them to pick a shirt.
3. Teach them how to clean up after themselves
I mentioned this above with the bathroom accident, but I throw this into every part of our lives. Mess in the bathroom? They know where the towels/paper towels are and to let me know it happened (so I can use cleaning products if necessary). Toys all over the living room? They got them out therefore they can put them away. Something that has helped them with the toy clean up is making it a game sometimes. I’ll ask them to pick up two toys and then three, or pick up all of the green toys. I take it as a two birds one stone kinda deal!
4. Set up an easy to grab snack station
This was a life changer for me. I prep little snack bags for them in the pantry, have cheese sticks and yogurt tubes where they can reach in the fridge, and they can get to the fresh fruit on the counter. I am still working with them to ask me first (they do about 75% of the time) but my biggest goal here was to help them be in charge of their hunger. If you are worried about your older tots taking advantage of the snacks at eye level, start with a bowl of fresh fruit for them to easily grab from!
5. After meal time clean up
This has been a newer one for me but I wish I started sooner! I encourage teaching toddlers independence by having them clear off the table after meal time. They know to put their dishes into the sink and then in the evening they’ve been learning how to load the dishwasher with my assistance.
6. Willingly let them follow you around & copy you
I know this is every parents biggest annoyance, but hear me out. They are ALWAYS watching and picking up on things. They are little sponges that don’t get enough credit sometimes!
Or they like to pretend they don’t know how to do something. Which is almost always a lie.
By encouraging my toddlers to follow me around, they’ve picked up on how to do laundry, make the bed, bathe, brush teeth, sweep/vacuum, along with so many other things. Make the interactions inviting and soon enough you’ll have little hands reaching for the vacuum wanting to help!
7. Care for the animals
My toddlers learning how to feed the dogs was a great day. To help with this one- I’d suggest buying scoops that are the exact measurement for the amount of food your animals need. But it is a super easy task that the kids can absolutely help with that also makes them feel like a big kid!
8. Split the job
When getting started with teaching toddlers independence, and really teaching them anything at all, I suggest splitting the work.
You put one shoe on, they try the other.
You pick up two toys, they pick up the others.
You get the point!
9. Give them a minute before intervening
Whether they be struggling with something themselves, or arguing with a sibling, give them a minute. It’ll be easy to tell when you should intervene, but don’t let it be your immediate reaction! Instead of helping them put their coat on, encourage them that they can do it and describe how to do so themselves. Fighting with a sibling? If no one is actually hurt I let them go for a while before doing anything about it.
10. Let them help “cook” and teach them how!
One of my favorite ways to teach kiddos independence is getting them into the kitchen!
Why it’s my favorite way i’ve been teaching toddlers independence
Getting my toddlers into the kitchen has been my favorite way for teaching independence because 1. I love cooking and love sharing that with my kids and 2. It’s a great way to encourage a positive relationship with food!
I’ve found that my babes are much more likely to actually eat the foods served to them if they are involved in the process. But I’ll be honest, the type A inside of me cringes the entire time they’re stabling their toddler knives into the Oroweat Organic White Bread made with Whole Wheat while attempting to make a sandwich.
How to begin working on meal prep and cooking with toddlers
Even though making those sandwiches makes me cringe, it is a super easy way to get your kiddos involved in the kitchen. PB&J’s are as good for the soul as they are for a great reaching experience!
Easy Meal Idea for Toddlers to Make
You’ve got it. The easiest meal idea for toddlers to put together themselves is a messy but super tasty sandwich (preferably made with Oroweat Organic White Bread Made with Whole Wheat).
I started off letting them take the reins by laying out my new fave Oroweat Organic White Bread made with Whole Wheat on the counter top with a plop of peanut butter on one and jelly on the other. From there my toddlers would get up on their step stools and smear the pb&j across the pieces of bread. Now I just get out the three ingredients and a toddler safe knife and let them go at it!
These sandwiches do not have to be perfect. I can assure you, your littles will be so proud of their sandwiches that they will have no problem finishing them off!
PS. They LOVE cutting out an adorable shape after putting their sandwiches together and they’ve been loving their new Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse sandwich cutters!
Mom’s favorite Oroweat Organic White Bread Made with Whole Wheat
While working in the mealtime independence, I try to also put some focus on why we eat the things we do. I don’t put a huge focus on what is “good” or “bad” for them, but I do share with them in kid terms the benefits of Organic white bread made with whole wheat as well as why I go with low sugar & zero additive varieties of jelly and peanut butter.
With low sugar jelly for example, I share with them that mommy likes to eat this kind because it helps her feel really good especially with some apple slices! They don’t need specifics because they aren’t going to understand them anyway. But they for sure love doing any and everything mommy does so there we have it!
Then when it comes to describing why I buy Oroweat’s organic white bread made with whole wheat, I make sure to touch on those feel-good facts as well. The bread is PACKED with impressive nutritional qualities and I love that it adds some nutritional value to their every day sandwiches
Why I have a favorite Organic Bread for my kids
Oroweat recently launched their Oroweat Organic White Made with Whole Wheat featuring Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and it’s quickly become a favorite of mine not only because of the nutritional qualities but because my toddlers LOVE Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
I’ll tell you what, they never turn down their Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse sandwiches!
That part is great in and of itself, but Oroweat Organic White Made with Whole Wheat is the yummiest Organic bread that I’ve tried myself and it’s made with Organic whole grain as the first ingredient. It’s also plant-based and provides a good source of Vitamins A, D, & E. Like, hello. A parents dream come true!
Not only is it USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, but it’s also freshly baked using renewable wind energy. Oroweat Organic donates a % of the bread’s revenues to support environmental causes which I just love. I love brands who stand for more than themselves and look at the greater picture.
Where to buy Oroweat Organic White Made with Whole Wheat Bread
Quite frankly, you have got to get your hands on this new Oroweat Organic White Made with Whole Wheat.
I hope the ten tips I shared for teaching toddler’s independence help save your sanity a bit, but also make for a greater parent child bonding experience! I absolutely love the little moments of teaching my toddlers something and seeing them be able to do those things for themselves.
If you’re looking for a few ways to put these ideas into action and add some toddler-friendly chores into the mix, check out this post!