No one has to force a little child to learn – it’s part of their nature.  When your toddler turns the light switch off and on, he’s not trying to annoy you.  He’s simply a baby scientist researching cause and effect.

When your daughter figures out a way to give herself a boost – by dragging a stool over to reach the stuff up on the counter – she’s passed her first test in engineering. 

The truth is, bringing up a child is like watching a continuously unfolding miracle – as long as we can turn off that nagging inclination to say “Stop!” and tune into the learning potentials God has built into his little creations. 

Independence 

What if I told you that the Terrible Twos are a myth, that tantrums are not normal, and that a child whose independence needs are met appropriately is most unlikey  to have a meltdown in the mall?   

Certainly the drive for independence can become dangerous – as when your child lets go of your hand and darts through the parking lot.  That’s where limits and discipline come in.

But when you find your child trying to pour his own milk, his behavior is neither dangerous nor defiant.  It’s simply the natural result of the way God built our kids – with a drive to learn to do things on their own.

When your child shows interest in learning a new task, do your best to make it possible. 

Give your child choices whenever you possibly can: Let him pick out his own clothes and dress himself. Look for ways to make difficult things easier:  A child with crocs and elastic waistbands can experience the satisfaction of independent dressing early on.

As your child grows, anticipate ways to encourage more independence. As soon as he can tell time, buy him a clock and let him wake up to his own alarm and morning routine. Let him make his own pb&j. Teach him to make a few simple meals.

As you begin to respond with patience and consideration to your child’s drive for independence, you will begin to see immediate results in a calmer, more tractable child.  But you will also be investing in the future as your child grows in confidence and competence.

Let’s face it: Parenting is really a job we should be working ourselves out of each day.

Order

While the sensitive period for independence is pretty self-evident, adults are often surprised to learn that the child’s potential for order is also established during the early years.  But that’s because it’s subtle – and very dependent on the environment we provide.

Order provides stability and security.  It encourages concentration and efficiency.  When a child knows where to find things, he can function more independently. 

Start with the basics: a child-sized table and chair – not in the bedroom, but somewhere in the midst of the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Besides a stool in the bathroom to enable him to take care of his needs, a stool in the kitchen will open a whole new world to him as he becomes part of meal preparation.

Put a peg rack at his height near the front door so he can hang up his own jacket when he comes in. A boot tray un­derneath will keep dirt off your carpets and help him re­member where his shoes are.

Keep things organized in an attractive way.  Opt for shelves over toy baskets. Use clear plastic containers to sort and hold things like small blocks, lacing cards, pegs, and puzzles.  Teach your child to take out one exercise at a time, to spend as much time as he wants with it, and then to put it back before taking out anything else.