How to support toddlers’ autonomy : a qualitative study with child care educators
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofEarly Education and Development ; vol. 27, no 6, p. 822-840
Publisher(s)Taylor & Francis
Research Findings: The present study explored the concrete manifestations of autonomy support (AS) toward toddlers. Eight child care educators were interviewed. Based on our assessment, these educators all valued AS. A qualitative content analysis revealed 18 practices that this group of child care educators considered supportive of toddlers’ autonomy. The present findings are in line with the traditional conceptualization of AS, namely, offering choices and encouraging initiatives, acknowledging the child’s feelings and perspective, and providing rationales and explanations for requests (Deci, Eghrari, Patrick, & Leone, 1994; Koestner, Ryan, Bernieri, & Holt, 1984), suggesting that these practices are developmentally appropriate for toddlers. Yet, they also widen the scope of AS, highlighting additional caregiving practices that may support the autonomy of toddlers. Practice or Policy: The results are discussed in light of child care educators’ professional training context and the relationship between AS and structure. The practices found in this study offer many means of actualizing AS with toddlers on a daily basis.