One way to save on a lot of frustration in the toddler years is to encourage the independence these little people so fiercely desire. When the toddler feels as if, “I can do that,” instead of “The world is intended for people much bigger than I am,” there is less struggle and angst in daily activities and events. Toddlers are learning that they are capable of doing SO MUCH, and whenever possible, we as the parents should make sure that roadblocks to independence are taken down.

These roadblocks will be different for every child. But if we keep an eye out for them, we’ll identify them and can find a way to fix them!

(For more ideas to toddler-retrofit your home, check out Anneliese’s Montessori toddler room tour.)


One stressful place for Anneliese was this little step in our garage. We do not have stairs in our house, so she doesn’t have a whole lot of opportunity to practice going up and down steps. Plus, when it comes to gross-motor activities, she has always been apprehensive and very careful.

So when we were going out to the car, she would freeze at the top of that tiny step, and visibly become stressed. She would ask over and over, “UP?! UP! UP???” Tears would well in her eyes, and she would start making tiny “stomping” steps with her feet as I got Joseph situated in his car seat. I found that if I held her hand to help her down the step, she was okay… just that extra bit of security.

But it’s hard to WAIT for Mama or Daddy to come help you sometimes!

So, when my observant husband saw Anneliese beginning to use the railing on the stairs at the playground (to get up to the toddler-slide), instead of just clambering and crawling up them, he built this tiny railing on the wall out of some scrap wood.


It took some getting-used-to, but once Anneliese figured it out, she would no longer be conquered by the small step in the garage.


Another place that was a bit frustrating for her was the bathroom sink. We had a little stool for her to stand on, but when it was time to brush her teeth, she didn’t want us to wet the toothbrush for her. She wanted to do it herself! So she would leaaaaaaan as far as she could, to try to get the toothbrush in the stream of water. Often this would cause the stool to slide back and startle her.

So I ordered the Aqueduck faucet extender (which just happens to match her bathroom perfectly — but there are 3 choices of colors). I still have to turn the water on for her, but the flow of water is moved far enough forward that she can reach it with her toothbrush and her hands. Now she often asks to brush her teeth and wash her hands in the middle of the day just for fun.


There are a lot of other areas in our home which I need to make more accessible for her, as she tries out new skills and craves more independence (and yes, I plan to blog about them). But every tiny boost I can give her is a move in the right direction, and I’m happy to help.

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  1. Love this! I’m looking for ways to toddler-fy my home and love how Montessori fosters independence. These ideas are so creative, thank you!

  2. Why not have a bigger stool. We used a taller toddler stool (from ikea) when she couldnt reach and then moved to a shorter one when she became tall. 🙂

  3. Wow, I had no idea there was such a thing as a faucet extender. I’m totally ordering one.

    We also have a super-cautious daughter re: gross motor stuff, but our house is FULL of stairs so with a lot of practice she’s pretty confident now. But it took us a long time to get here!

  4. Love these ideas! I have so many bookmarks to pages on your site for things for our future kiddoes. I feel like you are creating an encyclopedia-like resource for me!!

  5. Great ideas! I’m going to get that extender. Nice handrail your hubby is just as creative as you it seems. Lucky kids! 🙂

  6. Oh, I think this is just so thoughtful! We’re currently in a super-temporary living situation, but I’m collecting ideas for the next house. It really must be so frustrating for the little people in the house, when it seems like nothing is intended for them.

  7. I just ordered the extender a few days ago, glad to see it works well!

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