Initiative is the ability to use thoughts and actions to meet your needs. Initiative develops when children have caregivers who provide a safe base from which to explore and who trust children’s ability to try new things on their own.
Initiative in infants and toddlers looks like:
- Exploration of their surroundings through movement, tasting, touching, and looking around,
- Reaching for familiar adults for play and comfort, and
- Trying to do things independently.
You can support initiative for infants and toddlers by:
- Learning and responding to your child’s cues,
- Playing simple games such as peek-a-boo,
- Providing a safe space for your child to explore and act on the world around her, and
- Allowing your child to help you with chores or daily routines such as getting dressed.
Initiative in preschoolers looks like:
- Trying new things,
- Sticking with a task, even when it is hard, and
- Asking lots of questions.
You can support initiative for preschoolers by:
- Getting involved in your child’s play, asking questions, and following his lead,
- Supporting your child’s interests,
- Involving your child in daily tasks such as helping to set the table, and
- Helping your child think about solutions to problems.
These are just a few of the things you can do to support a child’s initiative. Initiative builds children’s mental health and supports their resilience.
By Jessica Sims