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Dealing With The "DO IT MYSELF!" Stage

If I had a nickel for every time I hear, “NO, I DO IT!” in a day, I’d be rich. Okay, maybe not quite rich, but I’d definitely be able go on a nice little shopping spree for myself.

And while, on the one hand, it’s fun to watch my toddler learn to master new skills, this stage also sometimes requires more patience than this mama can muster.

Like the morning I asked my son three different times to take off his pajamas and diaper so I could get him dressed and take his sister off to school. I wanted to have one less step to do while I was busy finishing my own routine. And of course he knows how to undress himself — he does it all the time when I don’t necessarily want him to!

But, he didn’t listen and the PJs remained firmly in place. We were running a bit late, so finally I just had to do it for him. And if you’re a parent of a toddler too, I’m sure you know what happened next.

Yes.  A tantrum of epic proportions — screaming, crying, flailing, hitting, and a sudden request to put his pajamas back on so he could, “DO IT MYSELF!”

I told him he needed to settle down and I would put his pj shirt back on, which he did. But when he was trying to take it back off himself, it got stuck and he was still too upset, and set on doing it himself, to let me help. (A vicious cycle.)

By this time we were dangerously close to making my daughter late to school, so my patience was pretty much non-existent, and it was in that stressful, out-of-patience, dealing with an upset, tantrum-prone child, that I had my revelation. I realized how I could combat this “DO IT MYSELF!” stage. How I could give my son the time and space to do the things he wants to do on his own, without pushing my patience to the limits.

And the answer seemed almost too easy.

Plan ahead.

If I think about the things that my son really wants to do himself (and will potentially set him off into temper tantrum territory if help is involved) such as getting himself dressed, putting his own shoes on, buckling himself into his car seat, walking himself upstairs to his room for bed instead of being carried — if I think about these things and plan ahead of time, leave a bit of room in our schedule instead of being rushed, I won’t get so impatient and frustrated when he can’t do it as well or quickly as I want him too.

As it turns out, the problem is ultimately my own — I’m chronically running late or short on time, feeling rushed to get from one thing to the next — it’s not his fault that he just wants to assert his independence and new found skills. And these ARE qualities that I should encourage and admire without rushing him to keep up with my time line.

So, I’m working on being a more patient mom with my “DO IT MYSELF!” toddler by planning ahead and giving him the time and space he needs to be the amazing little guy that he is.

How do you handle the “DO IT MYSELF!” stage? What tips or tricks do you use to avert the tantrums and let your toddler do the things they so desperately want to do for themselves?

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