One of the most exciting milestones in your child’s life is when he starts to want to do things on his own. He not only tries to put his spoon to his mouth when he wants to eat, for example, but he also wants to do so himself. “Me do it”, as some children say, means doing an activity without help from you!
Showing this normal and healthy desire to be independent is good news. But it can also be frustrating for you, when you are in a hurry and it takes your child longer to do something than if you did it for him. You want him to feed himself now, for example, because you have to get to work or to an appointment. But your timetable and his are often not the same! What do you do to keep yourself calm?
Your job is to be patient, while you praise your child’s growing independence. Try to allow extra time in your morning schedule to allow him to do “me do it” activities, for example, so you both will be less rushed.
- Be a role model of the respectful behavior you want your child to use.
For example, when our daughter said, “Me do it!”, when I held the cup for her, I knew that she was not being obstinate. I patiently encouraged that behavior by praising her effort, saying, “I’m glad you want to hold the cup yourself.”
Children who believe that they are the masters of their own lives are more likely to become strong, resilient children and adults. My husband and I encouraged our children to learn how to do things on their own by:
- Preventing frustration. We tried to make tasks as easy for our children to accomplish as possible (and the least frustrating for them and us!). For example, we undid the snaps on their pants before we let our little ones try to pull them on.
- Making sure we gave our children a chance to try something they wanted to do by themselves, before we did it for them. Even though we could do it faster, we let them try to stack their wooden block toy, for example.
Make sure you sign up for our weekly emails to learn more about how to nurture your child’s growing independence positively and patiently every day.