Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mr. Independent

My parents may be proud that the college education they paid for is finally getting put to use, although the payoff is not exactly monetary. I majored in Human Development, emphasizing in child development (aka. The "I plan to be a teacher" major). I taught for a few years after college, but ultimately became a nanny for two families and then went on to work for a surgeon when we returned to Southern CA.

And now...I'm a mom.

When Sal was an infant, education aside, I was at a loss for what was normal (maybe I slept through those classes?), but now that he's a toddler, and starting to assert his independence, I feel like I am able to understand the "why's" of his behavior and it all comes down to him trying to test boundaries and become independent. 

He wants to do things on his own.

My job, as his mom, is to make his journey to independence and autonomy possible with age appropriate (and maybe a few challenging) tasks that he can master without assistance. It also makes my husband and my life a bit easier.

Here's what we've done to help Sal gain some independence and pride in his abilities to accomplish tasks:
Toddler friendly snacks placed on his level that he can choose from. 

Today he chose a tangerine.

And peeled it himself into an accessible garbage can.

Plates, bowls and sippy cups in a low unlocked cabinet. He can get his own cups and plates for mealtimes.

We turned off the hot water, so he can now fill his cup with water unassisted. The rule is that there must be a cup under the water spigot or he loses his privilege of filling his cup for the morning/afternoon.

Books and boxes of toys easily within reach.

A couple of 3m hooks placed at his level so he can hang his hat or jacket alone.

A bucket of easy to put on shoes. He finds the matching shoes but still needs help getting his foot in the shoe. Until he is ale to put shoes on easily himself, I plan to stick with Velcro closures. I really like pedipeds first walkers because of the tongue that flips out and wide Velcro closure. They slip on easily. 

I've moved his weather appropriate clothes to the bottom drawer. He chooses his shirt and bottoms for the day. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don't. It's his style. His choice.

A work in progress...self dressing. He tries himself but I am there to offer help if needed. 

It's been really fun and rewarding to watch him exceed my expectations of what he is capable of at this age.

My hopes in terms of giving him tasks he can do himself is to curtail some of the tantrums and frustrations that kids his age often exhibit. Don't get me wrong, we still go through the daily tantrums (how dare I close the bathroom door--he was playing with the flusher!) but I think that the more he feels in control the smoother his late teen months will go. In just the last week of making the household changes above, we've had much smoother days.

Lesson of the day: never underestimate what your kids are capable of. They rock!


  1. I printed this for granny. She will love reading all about Sal.


  2. This is awesome. While I was teacher trained as well, I have the Journalism degree followed by the teaching credential and Ed. Tech. Master's degree. So while I did have to take all those tests and learn about Piaget and whatnot, I never focused myself too much on childhood (especially early!) development. I always saw myself as the older-kid teacher and I was... sort of wish I would've paid more attention.

    This posts are awesome as they challenge me to push Benjamin to another level. I'll be moving his clothes to the low drawer and letting him peel those tangerines now, too! I never thought about it, honestly. We'll see how his patience handles that one.

    And the sponge activity? We did it on the deck and he still had little interest in actually transferring water and instead decided to splash and pick up the bowls. Will revisit later...

  3. I love this! Great ideas! Although my little guy once got a cup stuck in the fridge and couldn't get it out... while I was in the shower. He DID get a small towel and told me some water spilled, but when I came out ten minutes later, there was water ALL.OVER.THE.KITCHEN. Oops. :)

  4. Love having him do what he can for himself and how you have reorganized so he can have access to what he needs. His grama Sandy is loving watching him grow and learn.

  5. I think this is going to be an awesome Montessori blog very very soon!!! I'm impressed by Sal's independence and his mom's patience in letting him spill the beans.