Our beautiful little baby is growing up. At 28 months old she is well and truly expressing her independence from us and has been for quite some time. The words “I want to do it, on me own” have become somewhat of a catch phrase in our house. The range of tasks she wants to do on her own gets longer every week. This currently spans walking down stairs, going to the toilet, washing her hands, carrying her own things, opening her own things, the list goes on and on. God forbid you should try to help her do any of this and you WILL know about it. I have learnt my lesson after several red faced tantrums only solved by me carrying her back up to the top of the stairs so she could come down them “on me own”.
After 2 or 3 of these epic tantrums I’ve learnt to accommodate this desire for independence by giving her control where I can, listening to her requests, respecting her desire to be a big girl. I’m sure to some outsiders it looks ridiculous (I feel like they are thinking but she is a child and you are the adult) but she has always been strong willed, independent and I find the best way is to work with her and to listen to her. She might look little but she’s got BIG plans.
We sometimes have frustration when she realises she cannot do it all on her own and of course accidents, when she can’t quite get down those awkward leggings in time or spilling her water because she wants to carry it down the step, on her own! but mostly it works. She knows what she can and can’t do and we let her do the things that she can that present no danger. Sure they might make a mess, they might not be how WE would do it but its boosting her self esteem just trying, especially if we follow it with some words of encouragement.
I have found doing small things to accommodate her search for independence really help build her confidence.
- A few months ago we went out and bought two sets of small steps so she can reach the sinks herself to wash her hands (one of her favourite past times).
- We have just created a cupboard in the new kitchen completely for her with her own cutlery (all metal like ours), her own plates, glasses and she now likes to get her own plate for dinner, every time.
- She helps out in some way preparing the meal for dinner. Mums will know that this is not always easy when she wants to chop all the vegetables, just like you mummy. I’ve taken to giving her the blunt knives, the ones she uses for eating and setting her on the mushrooms or the peppers or something else that is possible to chop with a ridiculously blunt knife. She is happy, I am happy :)
- I get her to help me make sandwiches, spread the butter on the bread, ok they may not be the most beautifully spread sandwiches but they taste just the same.
- And then there is the Montessori way to put on a coat! This is her little party trick :)
It’s all a lesson, for her but also for us. We are learning to let go, learning to slow down, learning that everything doesn’t need to be done on our terms. It isn’t always easy but giving her room to be herself and do it herself gives her so much, it is worth it.