Two year old’s are very independent creatures. I remember when Nora was 2, going on 3, all we heard was “I want to do it my own self!” And she did. When she decides she is ready to learn something, she will do it again and again until she masters it.
She became a master at puzzles.
She became quite independent in Teddy Bear gymnastics.
She learned to completely dress and undress herself early on and has now mastered her shoes, zippers and letter recognition. She is even starting to write her name with decent clarity. I am such a proud Mama. I could go on and on, but I won’t… all parents think our children are pretty spectacular.
Honestly though, she has accomplished what she has because she has insisted upon it. And as parents, we have obeyed her orders to “do it her own self” and let her. Sometimes this can be really hard to do as a parent. It is REALLY hard to watch your kid climb tall things when you are so afraid they will fall. And it is REALLY hard to sit there for the 10 minutes it can sometimes take to let your child attempt to zip her own zipper when all you really want to do is get out the door.
Developmentally, this desire to learn new things and grow in our independence never stops, it just changes it’s appearance as we grow. But, I feel like this toddler age is when we are the most vocal about it… at least until the teenage years. Meredith is in the height of her demands for independence. Her go-to phrases are “Do it by myself!” and “No, don’t help me!”
A few months ago she became determined to learn to put on her own pants.
She was so excited she did it, that I didn’t have the heart to tell her they were backwards.
Sometimes I get a little taken back by the fierceness with which Meredith demands her independence. And heaven help me if I go ahead and help her anyway. That will only set things back as she will start completely all over doing it all on her own. Sometimes I have to wait her out for quite a bit before she will take a suggestion from me or allow me to help with something she just hasn’t gotten yet.
When we had Nora’s interview for preschool, she was just learning to zip her coat and her soon to be teacher praised us when she saw that we encouraged her to try a few times on her own before assisting when she got it latched but couldn’t get it to pull. She said that she rarely sees parents take that time to let the kid try that sort of skill for themselves.
Honestly, I have never really had a choice. My kids crave this kind of independence and in doing that they have taught me how to be a better and (grudgingly) more patient mother. And this happens to be one of things my husband is really good at, which helps to keep me in check. But, I have also come to the conclusion that the toddler demands to “do it by myself” are a necessary part of their growth. I think they need to ask for it and as adults we need them to remind us to hear it.