Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Building autonomy part 1

When a child starts to be more independent and self-directed is when a child is building their autonomy. Children are choosing more for themselves, what they want to play with and begin to show more interests in what they like and don't like. A toddler shows signs of being autonomous when they begin to discover their sense of self and who they are. This is why it's important that adult interactions with toddlers-or any child for that matter- be done with warmth, flexibility and respect. Toddlers discover their sense of self and who they are as they feed themselves and push a parent's hand away because they want to do it or get mad at a parent when they try to get them to play with a toy they don't have an interest in playing with. A parent shows warmth to the child by allowing the child to feed themselves and saying something like, "That's fine, you do it." A parent shows flexibility as they play what the child wants to play with and shows respect as the parent doesn't try to get the child to play with what they want the child to play with.

Jean Piaget had two stages he thought applied to understanding the battle for autonomy. They are sensorimotor stage and preoperational stage. The sensorimotor stage occurs from birth to age two and is when children are developing ideas about the world by combining sensory and physical activities. An example of this is obstacle courses. The preoperational stage occurs from two to seven years old and is when children represent past experiences through dramatic play, language or art. An example of this is when a child gives a 'shot' to a doll.

Building a child's autonomy is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. It's hard to find the balance between helping a child become who they want to become and helping a child understand where their abilities and strengths are. In the next post I'll discuss some steps to help build autonomy in a child.

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