Growing Toddler Autonomy: Getting Dressed!

Today is a snow day! We didn’t get much snow, but nonetheless it will be nice to have some real conversation throughout the day with the older two kids I watch.  Unfortunately, with a nagging double ear-infection and a body still recovering from influenza I may not be the best of company for them.  But I will put on my positive face (and a little extra make-up) and prepare myself for a good day! In case there are many other nannies out there feeling snowed in themselves, here is something to do with your little ones to buy some time:  MAKE A BOOK! This is an example of one we made the other day. Enjoy! xOxO

There are no things more rewarding than the things we can do by ourselves. I don’t know who said that. Perhaps I just made it up on my own. But regardless of who said what, the truth remains the same: autonomy is empowering. And, if it’s empowering for adults when we create something & can say, “I did that”, why wouldn’t it also be empowering for toddlers to recognize their own accomplishments as well? I have said it before and I will say it a million times again “the most important thing we can give a child is a sense of autonomy”.

And I’m not always talking about big feats. Most of the time I am talking about small things– using a spoon to stir the muffin mix, knowing where to look for crayons, taking care of their blocks and the most challenging task of the day: GETTING DRESSED!

We often forget that someone took the time to show us how to put on our clothes. But it’s true. Someone did. And for the little ones I watch, we have been growing and learning all about clothes & different strategies of getting dressed. We have discovered that tags go in the back for a reason & sometimes our socks can feel funny.  And while all of these lessons sound simple, they are not. It’s lots of trying and lots of patience for everyone!

So, one thing we did a few weeks ago was make a book about getting dressed.
004 I cut out different clothing items. Then I let them each glue the clothes onto the pages.  This was exciting! The twins I watch just love using a glue stick! I explained to them as they went along that we were making a book. This was even more exciting for them now, as we spent hours reading books, but have never made books before!


Once the pages were done, I wrote the words. I used simple, repetitive language that they could easily remember if they were looking at the book alone, and that would trigger vocabulary the next time we were getting dressed.


This book lasted about two weeks around the house, which was a pretty good lifespan for two-year olds. Whether or not the book helped, I’m not sure, but it was fun to use the glue stick and read along with together. Why not make something they already enjoy doing into a life skills lesson without their knowing? This nanny is tricky. And isn’t that what learning is all about, the fun we have along the way?

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