THE TODDLER ROADMAP SERIES 2: Episode 22 – Encouraging Independence in your Toddler

"Everything you need to raise a happy, confident, resilient toddler 
undamaged by living through a pandemic!"

Show notes:

In this episode:

  • 5 Simple Ways to Develop Your Toddler’s Creativity. 
  • ​Celebrating Dads ALL Year Round
  • ​Toddler Favouritism Is Real. Here’s How to Handle It.
On the Parentverse: Sue Atkins talks to Sarah Cressall from the Creation Station and Author of ‘Creative Sparks’: arts and crafts family fun.

Independence is important because…

You may not want your little ones to grow up too quickly, but independence is something they need to learn. The last thing you want for your child is to feel insecure, helpless, or vulnerable.

Young children tend to ‘want to do things by themselves’ and this is a great sign as it is the beginning of independence in your little one and something for you to embrace and encourage.

The ‘Terrible Two’s’ are really all about your toddler’s need to become more independent and instead of thinking of it as a battle – embrace it and encourage independence as your child will thrive and it will turn into the ‘Terrific Two’s’


  • promotes confidence and self-esteem as well as motivation and perseverance.
  • ​fosters self-reliance, allowing your toddler to feel they have control over their life.
  • ​gives your child a sense of importance and belonging which is essential for building social relationships and for contributing to the world.
  • ​teaches them self- reliance as well as self -motivation as they have the freedom to find their own reasons to achieve something and to stick with something challenging
  • ​provides them with the belief that they are competent and capable of taking care of themselves which makes them resilient to external challenge and nurtures their belief in themselves. Two of the Crucial C’s of Connection, Capability, Counting and Courage.
  • ​allows your child to become good decision-makers as they have the confidence to consider various options before choosing the one they feel is the best one.
  • ​develops other vital qualities such as patience, concentration, self-help, cooperation, self-discipline, and self-trust.
  • ​means they will grow up happy and healthy as they feel a great sense of achievement and success as a direct result of their own actions and they will be comfortable being on their own – whether that’s travelling the world, eating in restaurants or living alone.
It's a good idea to help toddlers understand that things that are taken out should go back to where they belong, so start the habit of being helpful while they are young, and they will enjoy feeling independent whilst also learning to be responsible.

As a former Reception Class teacher, I know your toddler’s first teacher will thank you from the bottom of their heart if you start this early!

Just think for a moment how much time, energy, and frustration you will save in the bigger, long-term picture if you teach your toddler to tidy up after themselves.
  • Don't expect too much in the beginning. Tidiness is something your toddler has to learn. So be patient and show them how to tidy up and what you mean really in detail by being as specific as you can. Pop on your favourite song and dance and sing as you tidy up😊
  • ​Keep things in the same place so your toddler knows where they belong. 
  • ​Have a number of labelled brightly coloured boxes and start by getting them to put bricks in one, cars in another, soft toys in a third or whatever system you prefer and make a game of it! 
  • ​Have low shelves for books and big things and put toys with many fiddly little pieces on a high shelf, so you can restrict the number in use.
  • ​Toddlers naturally love helping so tap into their desire to please you and really show your appreciation of their efforts with lots of hugs, smiles and specific praise “That’s absolutely brilliant the way you put all the Lego into the blue box - thank you”  
  • ​Remember - getting your child to help is likely to take twice as long, but you've got to start somewhere. If you're in a hurry, don't ask your toddler to help. It'll end in tears so accept their age and dexterity limitations and keep the bigger, long-term picture in mind.
  • ​Be careful when you tidy up around your child, that you don't destroy something they have spent ages building or making. Don't barge in and start to clear everything away just because it's time to go on the school run. Squashing their playdoh is also squashing their self-esteem by forgetting to show respect to their efforts.
  • ​Be realistic. It’s not practical or realistic to expect to have a toddler and a house that's constantly tidy. So, relax and lower your standards a bit. Try not to get in a mess in the first place, by restricting the number of toys out at any one time and avoiding toys that come in lots of tiny pieces sometimes.
Watch my videos, listen to my MP3s and read my modules in my FULL TODDLER ROADMAP MODULE 22 around Independence
Put in the discount code PEANUT 25 to get a huge 25% discount on the whole 41 videos. 41 MP3s and 28 Modules of my eCourse

Why is Creativity Important

  • Creativity goes hand in hand with imagination and imagination underpins creativity and vice versa. Imagination is crucial to problem solving, thinking outside of the box and being able to enjoy art, literature, and films later in life. Being able to think creatively as well as having an outlet for creative expression helps to broaden your child’s imagination.
  • ​Being creative helps children to understand themselves. Creativity is a valuable form of self-expression and the ways in which children’s creativity comes out helps them to understand their inner thoughts, feelings, and likes and dislikes.
  • ​As well as helping them to understand themselves, creativity is a valuable method of self-expression! 
  • ​Creativity helps build resilience! Being able to think creatively helps your toddler to look at setbacks and challenges in different ways, which then leads to being able to move past them or solve any problems.
Creative activities at this age is all about allowing and encouraging your toddler to explore, discover and develop. It’s not all about a perfectly finished painted pot or lovely Father’s Day card it’s all about the experience and nurturing your own child's ideas and imagination.

Creating together is a wonderful way to make memories that last a lifetime - collaborating creatively with your toddler is a wonderful way to build confidence and dexterity around cutting, holding a scissors or picking up tiny sequins. Developing those crucial gross and fine motor skills as well as exploring different textures and mediums. During arts and crafts children regularly use the various muscles in their fingers, wrists and hands and regular use of these muscles improves their strength and finesse, which then makes other tasks, such as writing, far easier!

Painting, drawing, making are all really good ways to relax and support your child’s mental health and wellbeing too.

Toddlers are also developing patience and concentration too and nothing can beat that huge feeling of accomplishment when an activity is completed! Celebrate by putting their artwork up on the fridge!
I have filmed and written tips for Disney’s ‘The Gift of Play’ website. Get inspired and spark the magic of imaginative play with my tips & videos in collaboration with Disney, Pixar, Star Wars™ and Marvel.

Download & Discover ‘The Gift of Play!’ Guide

Bursting with inspirational play ideas, arts, crafts, games, activities and puzzles!

Let’s Celebrate Dads ALL Year! 

Ahead of Father’s Day, new research reveals the evolution of fatherhood demonstrating a dynamic generational shift in the way fathers now parent.

 Once seen as the main breadwinner and disciplinarian, dads today want to be seen as true co-parents and have mastered far more skills vs their own fathers…
Meet the modern dad:
  • Two thirds of parents define today’s ‘modern day’ as being more available to provide emotional support and help with the day to day running of the household
  • ​Two thirds of dads rate being a good parent that their kids admire as their most important job
  • ​Over 50% recognise the pressure their own dads faced to be the main earner, with 56% wishing their own father had the time available to spend with them
  • ​80% are involved in the running of the household and doing domestic chores - 55% more than previous generations
  • ​Three quarters of dads cook for their family; whilst 69% and 60% now participate in bedtime and bath time routines, respectively.
  • ​WFH has further accelerated this generational shift to a new era of parenting for men
The research was commissioned by TV show Bluey to reveal what modern parenting looks like.

Here are some lovely books in the Sue Atkins Book Club to read to your little ones anytime!


Sue Atkins Toddler Roadmap Community
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Hello Sue, have you got any tips for me as my son Micky seems to prefer my wife over me and I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong? Ross McKiernan from Dublin, Ireland


This is very common and a phase little ones go through. While this can be quite hurtful if you are the parent who is being excluded, it is helpful to know that this is a phase and it will pass.

Preferring one parent to another, is actually considered healthy development and common among children of all ages & it’s not uncommon for children to prefer one parent over the other for a little while!

Sometimes this is due to a change in your parenting roles or circumstances: like a house move, a new job, or a new arrival in your family or a divorce. During these transitions, you may find that you naturally seem to take on different roles – so who does bedtime changes, who gets breakfast, or who is in charge of the daycare pickup routine.

And sometimes, it’s just because mummy does better more fun bath times, or daddy tells better bedtime stories.

Regardless of the reason, being rejected by your child hurts. But I think if you understand that it’s not personal, is short lived and will pass then you can keep the bigger picture and relax.

Preferring one parent to the other can typically be attributed to the attachment process. The attachment phase begins at birth and continues throughout our lives, and it is an important process for your child to learn.

The purpose of attachment is to find one person who provides your child with ultimate support, trust & security. While your child is learning the attachment process, there might be some exclusions of a parent or caregiver. The exclusion of one of you may fluctuate back and forth between you at different times depending on your child’s need to identify with a parent based on different developmental stages and needs.

Sometimes a child’s exclusion of a parent or caregiver may be exacerbated by your behaviour as a parent. Take a little bit of time to ‘Pause to Ponder’ your roles are parents. Is one parent more fun and relaxed while the other is the main rule setter and disciplinarian?

If so, your child is more likely to attach to the “fun one”– who wouldn’t! Try balancing the ‘good cop/bad cop’ discipline and fun between you and see if that changes anything with the excluded parent.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to survive this awkward stage.
Here’s an exclusive DISCOUNT CODE of 25% OFF JOINING MY TODDLER ROADMAP eTraining

Everything you need to raise a happy, confident, resilient toddler


Sue Atkins in conversation Sarah Cressall from the Creation Station: arts and crafts family fun classes suitable for all children up to 11 years.

Pause to Ponder This Week:

  • How can I empower my toddler by letting them do things for themselves without ALWAYS rushing in?
  • ​‘Pause to Ponder’ your roles are parents. Is one parent more fun and relaxed while the other is the main rule setter and disciplinarian? Do your roles need to be more balanced out?

Time To Take Action

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My Toddler Roadmap looks at all the aspects of raising your toddler so they are not damaged by a unique time in history - living through a pandemic - & each module will help you to nurture your child’s mental health and wellbeing and this podcast is linked to my Toddler Roadmap training.

I’m going to hold your hand, support and guide you through everything you need to know about raising happy, confident resilient kids – today’s toddlers but tomorrow’s adults!
I want you to relax & have total confidence that you’ve got a parenting expert who’s got your back - showing you the way to happy, confident kids and knowing the pandemic didn’t damage your kids long term!

In my TODDLER Roadmap Course and Community I will give you the step by step guide for handling toddler tantrums and why they happen, I give you the roadmap for potty training, why kids become fussy eaters and what to do about it. I show you how to build self confidence in your toddler and explain why they say ‘why?’ all the time, I give you my parenting hacks on how to handle sibling rivalry when another baby arrives, I tell you about the importance of play and how to handle when they say ‘NO!’

I tell you how to handle whining, crying, and biting. I show you my tips for getting kids into a good bedtime routine and why that’s important. I talk about why reading with kids is so important and why singing nursery rhymes with them helps their language development. I show you how to handle night terrors and I look at the bigger picture to your parenting – not just the socks and pants of life that we all get stuck in!

So, I’m really excited to share with you my Toddler Roadmap

Check out my YouTube Channel Playlist – videos released every Tuesday and Friday

Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full Show Notes

There, you can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation.
You can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation. 
To get my full advice and videos join my Toddler Roadmap
Coming up in Episode 23 Answering a Toddler's Favourite Question - Why?

"Why are we getting into the car?"
"Why are we going to the supermarket?”
"Why is it raining?"

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Jump on and join in – it’s free from finger pointing or tut-tting – it takes a village and we’re all in this together!
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