Alphabetic Guide to Child Care - Independence


Many parents feel that the most memorable moment in a child's progress towards independence comes when he takes his first steps alone. Upright and walking! Most children accomplish this by going independently from the secure arms of one adult to the waiting arms of another. As youngsters move toward greater independence, they will do so with confidence if they can start out from a secure foundation of rules and limits, and return to the security of acceptance and understanding should they come to grief.

The Toddler Stage

The toddler relishes the independence of being able to explore the house or the playground but he won't go very far before he returns to check in with the person in charge of him so that he can start out all over again. He voices his independence, too: “no” to naps; “no” to outings; “no” to a bath. This is the phase during which parents must be wary of asking “Would you like to” or “Do you want to” instead of just proceeding with the business at hand. Patience is required for the self-assertive fumblings and clumsy efforts at self-feeding and putting clothes on. Assistance should be subtle and tactful, not hurried and bossy: “Baby do, daddy help,” is the general idea.

School Age

As the child moves into the larger arena of school and friendships, “I'm not a baby any more” may become a complaint if he wants more freedom than he's permitted to have. At this stage, he begins to learn that responsibility goes hand-in-hand with freedom and independence. Old enough to ride the bike farther and farther from home means taking on the responsibility of keeping it in good repair and obeying all the traffic rules.

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