Surviving the “I Do It Myself!” Phase

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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. 

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