People often comment on Eamon's independence. In truth, yes, his nature is to be independent (he is, after all, born of a mama whose favorite toddler words were "I do it!"). However, we try to foster self-sufficiency and confidence at every turn. Whenever I see an opportunity to allow him to take care of himself, I take it, even if it means cleaning up after him, or taking longer to get the task done.
At 18 months, Eamon is taking showers by himself. We are a low-soap family, believing strongly in the cleaning power of warm water and friction. When Eamon gets into the shower, I simply stay in the bathroom with him, observing his creative play, and then remind him he needs to wash his diaper area.
Eamon generally carries his own plate of food too. Until recently, we put most of his meals in a little glass jelly jar, but he has started asking for a plate. He's quite adept at carrying his plate in two hands, and has yet to spill.
In my opinion, independence goes hand in hand with contributing to the family. In the past several weeks, I've started really encouraging Eamon to help with clean up, and trying to help him become aware of messes. He frequently puts his own clothes in the laundry, and helps fold clean diapers. This past weekend, he was a huge help in cleaning the house, even going so far as to mop the floor in his room.