THE INDEPENDENT TODDLER: WHEN ASSISTANCE ISN’T AN OPTION

I love how independent toddlers are! Once they are interested in learning something or doing something on their own, nothing will come between them and performing that act. Talk about driven! However, there are times that we, as adults, need to assist a bit. For instance, brushing teeth. E and V love to brush their teeth, which mostly looks like them chewing the bristles. While they are enthusiastic, I, as their parent, need to make sure that their teeth are properly cared for and brushed thoroughly and that means I need to assist a bit.

So what to do when the independent toddler doesn’t want your assistance?

Same time. If it’s just something that needs to be done, like using the toilet, I give the option of doing it the same time I do. While both E and V love their new toilet seat and stairs, they will always use the smaller toilet if they want to go at the same time as me or each other.

-Take turns. Do you want to brush your teeth first or would you like me to brush them first?

-Give options. Brushing teeth isn’t an option, but who brushed them first is, “Would you like to brush your teeth first and then me, or would you like me to brush them first?”

-Learn. Using teeth brushing as an example, we would learn about teeth prior to brushing them. How many teeth do they have, what are the names, what are they responsible for–just for example. I find this is extremely effective in older toddlers and children.

-Running commentary. “I’m brushing your back teeth, these are your molars. They are your biggest and strongest teeth. They grind your food, preparing for it to be swallowed…” This helps keep them in the know and helps them understand what is happening. Especially helpful when they aren’t able to actually watch.

-Make it fun. Stick out your tongue too when asking them to stick out theirs to brush it. Make silly noises. Play dentist.

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