Encouraging Delilah’s Independence

October 25, 2021, Hailey Cain

I can’t say if Delilah is more or less Independent than other children her age. What I do know is that there are definitely some days where I’m just watching her and thinking “wow she’s so independent, it’s like she doesn’t even need me anymore”. Then on the flip side, there are days I’m thinking ” oh my gosh she’s so attached to me this can’t be normal”, as she’s clinging to my pants shouting “mama” because she doesn’t want to have to walk to the kitchen to get her snack. It just varies day by day.

I have noticed that on the days where Delilah can be more independent and do things herself, she has a better day. She knows how to ask for help, but sometimes I think it makes her frustrated to have to ask for help. Thinking about it. I totally understand her frustrations because I’m the same way. There are lots of times I wish I could do something on my own when I’m better off asking for help. After noticing this, I have been trying to do whatever I can to allow opportunities for her to be independent and do things herself.

One of the first things she loves doing by herself is brushing her teeth. I never have to fight with her to get her to do it. Somehow, I also got lucky because she seems to understand that she needs to let me help at first so she can do it on her own. The way we do it is I get her toothbrush ready and then she lets me do a good brush on the top and bottom of her teeth. Then she takes over and gets to do the rest herself and she loves it. She usually shouts “YAY!” and is telling me she wants to brush her teeth all the time.

A big trouble area is at mealtimes and when I need to be in the kitchen cooking or doing whatever. I started noticing that she wasn’t eating well because she didn’t want to be confined in her high chair. She wouldn’t even pay attention to the food in front of her because she just wanted to get down. I had been wanting to get a little toddler table for her for a while to start doing little crafts and activities with her anyways and had been looking for a good used one for a while.  However, once grandma heard what I was thinking she decided to surprise Lilah with one. As soon as we put it together and she saw it was just her size, Delilah knew that it was hers. The first evening we had it, she sat at it playing for almost an hour, she was so excited. She hasn’t used her high chair since and she’s eating so much better. Though there are still days, (like this morning), where she flips over her whole bowl of cereal and makes a huge mess.

Now that we have the table, I keep thinking of new ways to help Lilah learn to do new things. The other day we gave her playdough for the first time and she loved it. She helped me carry all the tubs to the table and then she sat and played with them. She loved naming all the colors and putting them in the right-colored tubs. Next, I’d like to start showing her how to clear her dishes from the table and to help wipe it down after a meal. She used to love helping wipe down her high chair tray after she ate.

I’m also not trying to say we had to buy anything to help Delilah be more independent. While we love having a toddler table there’s a ton of no spend ways we’ve encouraged her independence like giving her weather-appropriate choices for her outfit and letting her decide what she wears from them. Another thing she loved was us letting her take her wrapped up diaper and throw it away after a change. That one actually helped keep her from trying to wiggle away during a change because she was excited to throw the diaper away when we were done. She loves to help and even something as simple as taking the diaper and throwing it away made her feel proud. She likes to clap and cheer after she throws things away. This makes me just a little worried she’ll start throwing away important things because she thinks it’s fun! I think it’s most important to remember that she’s capable and wants to interact with as much of her life as she and it’s my job to encourage her as she goes.