Patience. Patience. Patience.
Once your toddler hits this stage, you will discover a whole new level of patience you never knew you had. At least, I know I did. I’m here today to share some tips on how to not lose your mind while your toddler has their “I want to do it myself” moments.
The other morning my toddler was in the full blown “I want to do it” stage and this is how it went.
“Want do” is how he communicates that he wants to do it by himself…
It was time for breakfast so I started to prepare his toast, apples, and milk. I opened the fridge and got the milk container out and brought it to the counter where he waited excitedly with his cup.
Sure baby, go ahead. He took the lid off his cup and I helped him pour the milk into it. As I reached to grab the milk to put back in the fridge, he grabbed it and said “Want do”
I reluctantly agreed to let him to do… I tried to help him carry the container to put back in the fridge but he kept yelling “No mommy. Want dooooo” I could hear my husband in the background saying “Just let him do it.”
Are you going to clean up the milk when he drops the whole container, because it is too heavy for him?
I let go and he walks to the fridge carrying the brand new container of milk.
He drops it.
My husband says “Gotta go hunny, have a good day.”
My toddler is crying.
The dog is licking up the milk, which really isn’t great for his stomach. Check out this article, 7 Human Foods That Can Be Fatal to Dogs, explaining what can happen if dogs drink milk…It’s not fun, from experience.
Lesson: DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR HUSBAND. No, I’m just kidding. Listen, you know the saying “Don’t cry over spilt milk” In this case, you really can’t. As much of a pain it is to have to clean up the milk, it really is a small price to pay for the benefits of letting your toddler do these things on their own. It will teach them self esteem, and build on other life skills. Check out this article, “TODDLER DEVELOPMENT IN THE ME DO IT PHASE”
So this is all great, but sometimes it is SO HARD to stay so calm and cool during the “Me Do It” days. Here is what I do to ensure we’re all happy throughout this awesome milestone, and some tips to help your little one through this awesome stage.
- Plan for extra time. If you know your child is going to want to dress themselves in the morning now, add on an extra 10-15 minutes to your morning routine. This way you won’t be pressuring him/her to “Hurry up, we have to leave!” while also getting yourself worked up. If you know you have the extra time, you can take it to encourage them to do it themselves, and cheer them on. This also helps to start the day off right, leaving you both feeling proud and happy.
- Make things achievable. Using my example of the milk from the other morning, I now keep my milk on the lowest shelf of the fridge. This makes it easier for my son to reach the shelf and reduce the struggle (and tantrum) of not being able to get the milk onto the shelf. It’s not doing it for him, it is just making it age (size) appropriate.
- Cheer them on throughout the process. I find whenever my son is struggling to do a task, for example putting his pants on, if I cheer him on, he starts to smile and will keep at it.
“Oh my Gosh you almost have it! Keep going! You’re doing it all by yourself!”
- Celebrate like they’ve just peed in the potty for the first time. Whenever my son has finished a task by himself, I praise him. It encourages him to do it himself again and again and we all know the famous saying “practice makes perfect”.
- Resist the urge to just do it for them, let them figure it out, it will pay off! Finding the right amount of “guidance” is important. More often than not, my son will turn and ask for my help, when he really needs it. I do let him try a little longer, while encouraging before helping right away, and again, more often than not, he will do it himself.
- Stock up the bar. Stock up on your favorite comfort food or drink, because at the end of some of these days…. you’re going to need it.
Now with all this being said, this stage actually really is awesome. You get to watch your little toddler achieve life’s skills and, you get to see how proud of themselves they get. So even though things take a little longer, and you just want to rush in and do it for them, sit back and watch your little one master the things you’ve been teaching them all along, that’s all you!