The testing of boundaries and the willful quest for independence.
There’s an unrelenting pressure to meet their needs while at the same time letting them learn solve their own problems. A common refrain from my toddler-parent friends is this: My kid wants to do it on his own, but it’s just so much easier if I do it myself.
I’ve been there too: 7:45 am and the kitchen’s already a disaster. The breakfast table looks like the battle ground of a major food fight. My 3rd grader has misplaced his science book and my middle child is sick. Meanwhile, my toddler is demanding to pick out her own clothes. Have I mentioned that we should have left the house 5 minutes ago?
In times like this it is easier for me to put up with a toddler tantrum to get everyone out the door. Sure, there’s a little kicking and screaming, but we’re rushed. As a busy mom I’ve been trained to see speed and efficiency as the ultimate goal, and it’s a lot less time consuming for me to dress her than for my toddler to dress herself.
But is the daily race to the minivan really an excuse to miss a chance to foster my toddler’s development? With a little planning and forethought, I could have given my 2 year old an opportunity to master a skill and feel proud of herself, meeting a critical developmental need for independence.
It’s no secret that toddlers yearn to to things independently. Not only does it build important problem-solving skills, but doing tasks on their own also boosts self-esteem and a sense of autonomy.
Here are six easy ways to allow your child to do things themselves. What works for you? Leave your tips in the comments!
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.