Teaching independence skills

Independence skills are the daily life and self-care tasks children acquire that allow them to do things for themselves. The acquisition of these skills is not just helpful to parents — as there’s one less task for them to do — but they’re also critical to building children’s self-esteem. Our kids need to be encouraged from a young age to try new things and to know it’s okay to make mistakes. Just as toddlers fall many times before they learn to walk, it also takes time for them to learn new skills.

Toddlers will pick up some independence skills — such as walking — by themselves. However, other skills can only be learned with your help and support. Being aware of which skills are appropriate to teach at what age can be useful towards ensuring your toddler is successful in learning each new skill without too much frustration.

Toddler independence skills list

Table 1 lists age-appropriate independence skills for toddlers. The skills and associated ages in the table are only examples: if your toddler isn’t able to perform the skills at the ages shown, it doesn’t mean there’s a problem. To use the walking analogy: some kids learn when they’re nine months old; others learn when they’re 18 months old.

Table 1 is not a complete list, but it covers the major skills for the toddler age groups.

Table 1: independence skills for toddlers

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Routines for toddlers

No two toddlers have the same routine, but as a parent I often like to look at other toddlers’ routines to see whether I can pick up ideas and inspiration.

Daily routine

It’s with this inspiration and the ideas I picked up that I share my daily routine for a toddler with you in table 2. This is what a typical day looked like when my youngest child was 22 months old. Naturally, this wasn’t followed to exact times each day (for all sorts of reasons), but it’s the basic structure we used when caring for our baby.

Weekly routine

Each school term I put together a children’s timetable for the school kids and the preschooler. When I’m doing this, I also write up a simple timetable for our toddler. I don’t stick rigidly to this, but it reminds me of the age-appropriate activities I can do with him. Sometimes my days just flash by. 

Table 2: daily routine for a toddler

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