7 tips and routines to increase your child’s autonomy

At 14 months my daughter wanted to do some things on her own. Even if it takes more time, it is done roughly and not as an adult would do, it is an important stage of your child’s development: he or she is growing up!

On a daily basis, it is an additional difficulty for parents because letting their children do things independently takes time. It can sometimes be annoying too, especially when we are tired or in a hurry… …but it is by letting our children make their own mistakes and learning by their own experience that we help them improve their various skills. Doing alone is fine, but where do you start?

I share here with you my own experience and some useful tips that helped my 19-month old daughter gain autonomy.

The bed on the floor

My daughter slept in a crib until she was 18 months old. Starting from this age, she showed a great desire for independence. Her game was to make ‘a wall’ in her bed so as to get out of it. So, we decided to move her to a bigger bed and we chose the Alfred and Company bed hut. Apart from its sleek design (really beautiful!), the idea was that my daughter could get in and out of her bed alone. This arrangement was very effective since my daughter, once awake, gets out of bed, opens the door of her room and runs directly into ours for a big morning hug.

The step stool

Thanks to the step stool my daughter and I spend afternoons in a relaxed way. Before, the time of meal preparation was quite complicated. My daughter was frustrated at not being able to be my kitchen helper and probably felt excluded from this moment of everyday life. It often ended with crying, between Mum’s legs. Today, this moment is much more serene and became a real activity: we learn the name of vegetables and fruit that we cook, we discover different textures, smells… …and of course, we taste everything!

We also have a step stool in the bathroom to facilitate access to the washbasin and introduce new routines: my daughter washes her hands and brushes her teeth on her own.

Toy storage

We wanted our daughter to have an easy access to her toys so she could use them whenever she wished to. We have created two play areas:

  • play area in her room, essentially her play kitchen
  • play area in the living room for all other toys (Montessori activities, picture books, puzzles etc.)

The reading corner

We have arranged a cozy corner for reading moments in the living room: a pouffe, cushions to wedge, Monsieur Pelote (of course!), and a small collection of my daughter’s books. My daughter easily got used to sitting on a pouffe and reading calmly her books. And whenever she feels the need, she invites her father or me for a reading session.

Clothes and shoe storage

Here too, the idea was that my daughter could do things by herself. Put on and take off her shoes, get dressed and undressed. These are the activities that lead to autonomy. So we arranged the entrance of the apartment by installing hooks at appropriate height so that my daughter could put away her coats, hats and scarves.
We also placed a small stool so that she could use it and sit down when putting on or taking off her shoes, before she put them away alone.

The nursery

When my daughter was around 17 months old, she started enjoying the company of other children and was interacting more with them during play time. For us, the best option was the nursery (an additional advantage was the opportunity for my daughter to become bilingual Swiss-German). So here you go: 2 days a week at the nursery, far from the family cocoon, far from Mum and Dad. During these two days, she learns to live together with other people: new rules, new routines and new encounters. She enjoys undeniable freedom of movement and multiple group activities.

Family life participation

We always make sure our daughter does a certain number of daily tasks, such as:

  • Eat alone using fork, knife and spoon (since 13 months, even if half of the meal ends on the floor, as a hair mask or makeup…),
  • Drink using a glass,
  • Use soap in the bath,
  • Use cream,
  • Tidy up toys before a nap or bedtime,
  • Put dirty clothes in the laundry basket,
  • Peel the banana before eating it,
  • Accomplish small tasks when cooking together: pass the vegetables, sort the peelings, transfer them from one container to another…
  • Empty the dishwasher,
  • Store the groceries,

I was surprised to see how much my daughter enjoyed participating in all these tasks.

Our tips and routines make my daughter grow up a little bit every day. They provide her with a small dose of pride and confidence.

And you? What are your tips? How do organise your family life at home?

Share your best tips and routines and post your comments below!


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