5 ways to help your toddler become independent

Help your toddler’s confidence hit new heights with these fun ways to encourage his independence

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1) Personalise his post

Whenever your little one gets any post, like birthday presents, Christmas cards or just over-generous relatives showering him with treats, make sure the packages and letters are addressed to him. “Receiving post with his own name on it is bound to excite him,” says parenting expert Sue Atkins (www.positive-parents.com). “It’s also a fun way for your tot to learn about identity and how to spell his name.”

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2) Make him a tidy tot

Don’t let your toddler walk away from playtime with toys sprawled out over the floor. Making it a rule that he has to pick up his stuff and pack it away before you head out will give him a taste of responsibility and teach him self-discipline, a great trait for him to have once he starts school or nursery. If he’s not keen, say it’s a race and ask him to try and beat you to pick up and put away 10 toys.

3) Brush up in the bathroom

Save time, energy and teach your toddler to look after his own gnashers with these new toothbrushes from Firefly . Flashing lights tell your tot when it’s time to stop brushing after a minute on the top and a minute on the bottom teeth.

4) Laughs with laundry

Next time you’re doing the washing, play ‘Whose is this?’ with all the items. It will train your toddler to get to know which bits and bobs are his and where they live. “Helping around the house encourages responsibility and teaches him the workings of a home,” says Sue. “It’s also an ideal way to encourage your toddler to look after his own belongings.” If he doesn’t seem interested, turn it into more of a game by giving him different coloured single socks and ask him to pair them up.

5) Play supermarket sweep

Next time you’re doing the weekly shop, get your little one in on the act by asking him to help find and pick out certain items. “This is an excellent game to introduce life skills and explain that what you eat is important,” says Sue. “Asking him to find items, help weigh them and pack them up will show him how the food gets from the shop to home and onto his plate.” If you shop with a list, help him to cross off what he finds so he can see how well he’s done.

Mums’ stories

“Marcus loves the phone, and is really good at saying hello nicely and clearly. After the person has spoken he knows to ask ‘Who would you like to speak to?’ and passes the phone over. We let him use the phone from an early age so he now knows how it works and what to do with it. He loves chatting on it and proudly hands it over when he knows who the call is for.”

Sophie Mitchell, 24, from Cornwall, mum to Marcus, 4

“Over the summer we planted tomato and strawberry plants, which Maisie took great pride in, watering them and waiting for the fruits to appear. It was fantastic for her to have a little project and it helped her to learn that she has to look after things.”

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Charlotte Steadman, 27, from Cornwall, mum to Maisie, 2, and Emilia, 15 months


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