Debra Hasbrook, M.Ed.
The desire for independence begins very early. Each child starts this journey at a different stage in their development. You may begin to see this as infants spit out the binky that you think should be in, wanting to hold their own bottle or intentionally spitting out food.
My grand-daughter’s attempts at independence perked up around the dining room table. She did not want to be fed, she wanted to use a spoon or a fork. She did not want a Sippy cup, or for an adult to hold the glass. She wanted to do it herself. Yes, it was messy. But the smile on her face, and the look of satisfaction was worth the clean-up afterward.
Adult lives are so busy and it is sometimes difficult to let little ones “do it on their own”; when we have been doing it for them for so long. Putting on clothes, coats and shoes. For some children blowing their own nose, brushing their teeth and making their bed. It takes time and patience to allow children to struggle with the task at hand. Try to be patient and supportive.
I was at the store the other day and I watched as a little girl attempted to put on her boots while her mother was in the checkout line. She looked to be about two years old. She placed the boots together facing the right way near the counter. With one hand on the counter she pointed her little toes and worked her foot into the first boot. The second boot was tougher because her balance was a little off. The second boot tipped over, bent, and moved. When her mother finished paying for her items she strolled over to her daughter. This Mother could have bent over and put the boot on her child and left. However, this Mother stayed with her and encouraged her in her efforts. When the little girl was booted up, she looked up at her Mother, gave her a big smile and took her hand as they left the store.
“Me do it!” is a good thing. How you support your child will influence your relationship and the feelings of success and independence little ones need to become confident adults. Be your child’s first cheerleader and watch her grow.