Fostering Independence

As children grow, they want to try new things, complete tasks that are difficult, and become more independent. Children are naturally curious and want to explore their environment and learn new skills. As a parent, you can encourage this independence by providing your child with encouragement and a safe environment to learn!

Ways to Foster Independence:

  1. Start small
  2. Allow children a chance to communicate
  3. Never do for a child what a child can do for themselves
  4. Dedicate a part of your day or a routine to fostering independence
  5. Practice, practice, practice
  6. Celebrate!

It’s natural for your child to be curious and seek independence starting at 18 months. You may hear your child say “me too” or “me try”. Encourage their curiosity! Provide opportunities for them to feel independent and for them to develop new skills!! What are some ways we can gradually foster their independence?

Ways to Encourage Communication:

  1. Talk to your child! Repeat coos, babbles, and words your child says.
  2. Play games such as rolling a ball, singing a song and dancing, or playing with favorite toys, and then stop the activity and wait for your child to request more.
  3. Place objects around the room in a way that encourages your child to request the item (For example, put objects they are of interest somewhere they can see the object but it is out of reach. This gives the child the opportunity to request)
  4. Give “expectant looks” to your child after you ask a question and wait about 10 seconds for a reply.
  5. Wait for a response from your child, but if your child becomes frustrated, discouraged, or does not reply, give them the object they desire and try again later.
  6. Reward attempts at communication by giving the child the desired item and giving them praise.

If you feel your child is not communicating, be reach out to a speech-language pathologist!

-Samantha Graffius, M.S., CF-SLP

The Center for Parenting Education (2021). Developmental Tasks.
Hoefle, V. (2015, October 1). Seven Tips to Foster Your Toddler's Budding Independence. PBS Kids.