Toddlers are beginning to develop an understanding of themselves, what they can do and what makes them who they are.
Your toddler wants to make more decisions – and it’s a good idea to let him have a go at deciding between safe, toddler-friendly options, like which toy to play with or which hat to wear. As they learn, toddlers realise that they have the power to make things happen, which adds to their developing self-esteem.
But children at this age still see themselves through your eyes, so you have a very important role to play in building your toddler’s self-esteem. Here are some ideas:
- Let your child explore her environment but be present and ready to respond to her if she needs you. For example, your child might like stacking blocks but get a fright when they fall down. She needs you to let her know it’s OK.
- Let your toddler make reasonable decisions – for example, whether to have jam or vegemite on toast. This gives toddlers an exciting sense of control, which helps to develop confidence and a sense of self.
- Give your child the chance to say ‘no’. Toddlers need to assert themselves. For example, if your child says no when you ask him to put a jacket on, that’s OK. Getting cold won’t hurt him. Your child is learning to make decisions and might often practise by saying ‘no’, even if he actually wants what you’re offering.
- Coach your child through tricky social situations. Toddlers might find it hard to share and take turns because they’re learning who they are and what’s theirs. So you can say, ‘It’s my turn to have the red block now. Great sharing – well done!’