By Ty Schmidt
If you’ve had a toddler, or even spent more than an hour or two with one, it is something you know firsthand. In addition to all the happy things that accompany the exploration and curiosity that define toddler-hood comes something pretty darned developmentally important.
Creating a sense of independence and self worth are crucial elements to this period of psychological development. And it’s not always such an easy thing for parents to swallow, since it can be frequently accompanied by unwelcome tantrums and displays of independence.
Finding ways to integrate the Montessori school of thought is one route some parents opt to try as a means to foster a healthy sense of self through a respect for some of what toddlers can do independently. Understanding the foundation of the Montessori education as one that embraces independent learning, adding a self care station to your home would be one of a few ways to try out this method of thinking with your toddler.
Depending (obviously) on how capable your little one is to tend to things like his or her hair or teeth, the assumption is there could even be a little less work for you in the long run as the idea is for them to care for themselves. Yet an inordinate amount of patience is necessary, as toothpaste can end up in some places, water can end up being splashed and mirrors can end up broken.
Taking all of this into consideration, here are a few things to consider when creating a self care station for your toddler.
From a very early age, babies are drawn to mirrors. The simplicity of their reflection intrigues them perhaps more than several of those other toys that have since been put aside. In most cases, that is not something that goes away with age, so a self care station should start there. Start with a mirror set at an accessible height where the toddler can see what he or she is doing. Not only does this help as the toddler gets older and better understands what he or she is doing, but it inherently reinforces the behaviors you’re trying to encourage.
Keep it simple.
Don’t go overboard with options and tools, especially for boys who like to make tools multifunctional (whether they’re meant to or not). Think basics, like a brush, toothbrush, wash cloth and small (manageable) glass for water.
Get (and stay) organized.
The supplies you’d like to keep accessible on your child’s station will vary with your personal preferences and likely vary by gender. There may be a bit more to work with for a girl station, for example, than a boy station. That’s ok, but start small and get organized right away. Understanding grooming is only part of what you’re teaching with a station like this – use the space as a tool to encourage your child to keep things where they belong on the station and put things away each time to avoid having that comb show up in an unspeakable place the next time you visit the bathroom yourself.
Think at their level.
One of the most important things about the station is its location. Make it a place that they can identify and access at their will. Some people like to incorporate a special bowl for water that functions like a sink, or you can utilize a step stool that helps your child reach the sink – whatever is easier for you.
For more tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.
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