Surviving the “I Do It Myself!” Phase

When your toddler wants to do everything herself, it can be really frustrating and will try your patience. Find out how to survive it gracefully.

Toddler putting on shoes

“I do it myself!”

Recognize that phrase?

If yes, you must now have or previously had a two year old living in your home.

When Brayden hit this phase, I admit I was impatient with it.

I didn’t want to be slowed down, and most of the time it really made life with a newborn (Kaitlyn) a lot more difficult. Trying to help Brayden do something while she was crying and him insisting on doing it himself stressed me a bit. 

I don’t know if I am older, wiser, and/or just less stressed sans newborn, but I have no problem letting McKenna “do it.” And you know what? She is at the point where 95% of the time she does it and does it pretty quickly. 

I was reading through The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack. On page 15, she quotes John Rosemond,

“If you are so determined, you can indeed keep a child happy for eighteen years. In the process, you will surely destroy the child’s self-esteem. Why? Because self-esteem is reflected in the child’s belief that ‘I can do it myself!’ ” 

John Rosemond

Encouraging our children to do it and standing back while they do so is a great way to not only help the child learn to do it herself (afterall, how will she learn if she doesn’t try?), but it will also help build her self-confidence. 

Boyack also quotes Ann Landers:

“In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings” (page 17).

Ann Landers

Boyack also says, “Our children will get their best feelings of self-confidence from being independent and capable” (page 17). 

I know. I know. Waiting for five minutes while your toddler climbs into the car “herself” and another five while she does her best to buckle “herself” in causes a bit of stress.

You have somewhere to be and your toddler slows you down significantly, from pants, to shoes, to walking, to buckling. 

Here is a simple tip. You need to add “toddler time” to your time allotment for getting out of the house.

You thought adding a baby to your life made getting out slower, ha! Adding a toddler adds even more because of all of the things she must do herself

What you need to do is factor in those things and add that time. You used to need to start getting shoes on 10 minutes before you walked out the door. Now you might need 20.

This is a moment to practice your patience.

I promise it pays off.

Letting her practice each and every time enables her to learn how to do it herself. Then when she is four, she will be doing all of those things herself instead of still needing your help. 

Allowing your toddler to do it herself will help build her skills and her confidence. She will have confidence in her abilities in a rightful way. She will know her abilities and her limitations. She will have a realistic and positive self-concept, along with the will to try, try again until she gets it right. 

Related Posts

Surviving do it myself stage pinnable image

13 thoughts on “Surviving the “I Do It Myself!” Phase”

  1. This is my life right now. My 2 1/2 year old wants to do everything herself…exactly the things you mentioned. It frustrates me so much, but I need to just give her some space and allow her to try things on her own. Starting our "getting ready" time earlier will really help. Thanks for another great post!

  2. ha ha, this is my life too! I'm a pretty patient person so it doesn't bother me much but I do have to work at keeping my toddler on task: it's amazing how many interesting/distracting things she discovers while climbing into her carseat (all by SELF)! I also encourage her to do things on her own even when she doesn't ask and when we have more time. But now sometimes she says in a really pitiful voice, "No, I can't" (sad face) to the most mundane things. Logic doesn't have much of a role in the life of a toddler!

  3. I agree with the other readers – thank you for the reminder! I try to cushion our time for whatever she is trying to do herself but there are moments I really have to reel myself back in and appreciate the joy in watching her figure it out on her own!

  4. With a toddler and a baby, I try to use this to my advantage, letting my toddler climb into the car while I buckle up the baby, let him try to undress himself while I sort out the baby etc. There are days where my patience wears thin or I'm in a rush, but I do try to focus on the bigger picture of how great it will be when he's mastered these skills (and I don't have to listen to the whingeing and screaming in frustration!).

  5. I have enjoyed watching her learn to do things herself, but my bigger issue is how she tells me that she wants to do it herself. We are working on her asking mama in a respectful way instead of demanding that she will do it and pushing my hand away.

  6. Just the right post for me at this moment. I think I need to step back and let my almost 2-yr old do more things himself to avoid the standoffs! Love the new layout by the way – loads so much faster!

  7. great post and good reminder! Excellent and practical tip to just factor in more time so they can try to do more on their own, I have felt guilty for constantly rushing my DD. Although on the other side I have challenges where she often says 'i CANT do it, can you help me' and Im coaxing her to try to do things herself – she seems to give up easily. Jennifer – I agree, I was NOT ok with her pushing my hand away and demanding 'i do it myself'. I have taught her to say 'Please mama may I do it myself' otherwise – she def does not get to! so now she is really good asking politely rather than demanding rudely!

  8. I hit one of these moments today and I remembered this post. It wasn't easy letting my 2 1/2 year old son walk down a flight of stairs on his own, at his own pace while I had ice melting in the trunk (or so I feared), but we made it. He climbed down and back up and amazingly enough the ice did not melt and the world did not stop spinning. All is well and he was very proud of himself. Thanks for your wonderful timing in your posts. It seems most of the time you post something we are in the midst of dealing with that subject or are quickly approaching it. Thanks, again!Angela

  9. Cook Clean Craft, I agree–it is much easier to deal with the slow toddler when you have other children to focus on.


Leave a Comment