YOU Do It

dressing toddler

There was a time when all I seemed to hear is I DO IT.”  As a young toddler with a rapidly growing vocabulary, she was very proud of those words. She happily asserted herself and attempted nearly anything and everything. She often wasn't successful. Sometimes, these attempts would end in tears, or worse yet – a full blown tantrum.  

Today, I'm longing for I DO IT.” I miss it. These days I'm hearing a lot more of YOU do it.” It's about picking up her shirt, putting on her shoes, brushing her hair, wiping her bottom, and the task list goes on. I'm starting to wonder, who IS running this show?

I recently held my new little niece. She is two weeks old. Tiny. Helpless. Precious. Amazing. The moment I held her in my arms, all those emotions of holding my own little girl during those first few weeks flooded back to me. I was tired, but I was blissfully happy. I had a love like no other. I would have done anything for that kid.

Fast forward a few years and I still would do anything for my little girl. All it takes is a look into those big blue eyes and my heart melts. I want her to be successful. I want her life to be easy, but I am starting to wonder if I am making a bit too easy?

When will it be HER that does it and NOT me?

What is your goal of parenting? You know, the big picture? It's an easy answer for me: to raise a happy, healthy, independent adult.  You know, one that will go out into the world and do good things.

In our household, I think we are well on our way to happy and healthy. Independence? Not so much, at least when it comes to taking care of herself and her things. When is it time to give a little push towards independence? When do you think is the right time to tell your child it's THEIR job to pick up the toy, or to wipe their bottom (the best they can), or to brush their hair?

The short answer? There is NO right age in terms of months or years. Independence is more about developmental growth, knowing where your child is physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Then, it is providing the right tools to fuel their independent adventures.

For instance, wiping the bottom (one of my not so favorite jobs): in order for children to attempt the task, items such as toilet paper need to be in easy reach. Hair brushing? The brush needs to be manageable for little hands. And picking their toys or clothes up? Well, sometimes, you need to wait it out for their response and other times figure out what motivates them (in our house, stickers do magic).

Who is caring for your little one these days? Is it all you or are they ready to lend a hand? What tips and tricks are you using to motivate your little one to lend a helping hand?

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For me, its baby steps – one task and one day at a time. Today I'll conquer who is picking up the toys, tomorrow, perhaps bottom wiping.

What do you think?

YOU Do It

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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