Preschool-age children develop a sense of independence by practicing
skills and doing things for themselves, such as getting dressed or brushing
Children who are not allowed to perform tasks on their own get the
message that they are not capable. Children may then learn to always expect
help and remain dependent. Although it is often easier and faster to do things
for children, take time to allow them the satisfaction of taking care of their
own needs as appropriate. For example, allow your child to work on getting
dressed with elastic pants and pull-on shirts. Or encourage your child to brush
his or her teeth. Since it takes practice to become good at these and other
daily tasks, a good compromise is to let a child start the project, then finish
the job together. Praise efforts rather than outcomes. Avoid criticism and keep
your expectations realistic.
Independence sometimes can be frightening for children. Be
understanding if they have a sudden need for your help or presence.
Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years
Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength