You’re probably becoming very familiar with the phrase, “Let me do it!” One of the many tasks your toddler wants to try is getting dressed all by herself. “Three-year-olds should be able to dress themselves in basic attire, such as pull-on pants or slip-on shoes,” says Mike Mosiman, coauthor of The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child’s Intellectual Potential. Help your little one with this grown-up task by laying out clothes for her and choosing easy, pull-on styles that don’t have difficult buttons and zippers. Be ready to assist your child, but have plenty of patience. By dressing herself, your tot is learning important skills and independence.
If your little guy insists on feeding himself, sending peas and carrots everywhere, he’s right on track. Most 3-year-olds can feed themselves with a spoon or fork and drink from a regular cup. If you have a picky eater, let him know he needs to sample what’s on his plate rather than allowing him to refuse his dinner. Try “disguising” fruits and veggies by mixing broccoli into his mac ‘n’ cheese or replacing the jelly in a PB&J sandwich with apple or banana slices. Make mealtime fun and easy with finger foods such as kabobs.
Experts and parents agree: For potty training to be successful, your child must be ready. By 3 years old, your toddler might express interest in using the bathroom; she might tell you she has to go or ask for a clean diaper. Start a routine of having her sit on the potty throughout the day to become comfortable with it. Some accidents are normal, but if after several weeks your child still has frequent accidents or just isn’t interested in the potty, take a break. You can try again in a month or two when the child might be more interested or ready for training.
When your little one is ready to learn, heap on the praise and encourage your “big girl” to go potty independently. Many parents swear by bribes and rewards, such as sticker charts. Remember, even if your child can use the potty during the day, she might not be capable of staying dry at night. Slip your tot into a pair of disposable training pants before bed for a better night’s sleep.