My daughter is becoming fiercely independent. Don’t get me wrong this is exactly the kind of attribute we want to praise and encourage for her to develop and benefit from throughout her life. Years from now she will have the strength to stand up for herself and others. She will be able to advocate for what she needs and she will not take no for an answer… years from now.
Right now, though, this independence is too much for her to handle. My daughter wants to be on her stool washing dishes, standing on the toilet to brush her teeth, unlocking the front door after errands, turning on the stereo (and turning the volume waaaay up), reading her own books, cooking, and dressing herself.
I was so pleased when she learned how to pick out a pair of shoes, put them on herself, and cooperate with switching when I told her “wrong foot.” Even when she is opinionated about choosing the pair which didn’t necessarily coordinate with her outfit, her learning this task made me happy.
Not all of the independent tasks she is trying are coming so easily though, and some of them seem to be incredibly frustrating to her nearly 2-year-old mind. “No” seemed to be absent from her vocabulary up until the last few months and now it seems too many statements or questions are met with a sharp “NO.” When she gets stuck in a task she cannot figure out there is tantrum and tears, yelling and refusal of help. One night over the weekend she fought to put on her own pajamas, whining and squirming with them. When she got her legs stuck in the arm holes the body flailing began, so mad these pajamas could do her so wrong.
I allow her to have as many opportunities to practice her skills as possible. I stand outside in the heat for an extra five minutes for her to put the key correctly in the lock, I take the time to show her the correct method to get results, I step in to take over when she has lost control and I spend plenty of time cleaning up her messes. Let’s face it learning can be dirty sometimes. I wrestle with thoughts of psychology, child development and reinforcing behaviors, how much is too much and am I raising her right… Quickly snapping back to reality as duty calls for a second bath for the day when she attempted changing her own diaper in her crib after the nap.
Is this the terrible two’s, has it already arrived four months before she even turns the dreaded age? This stubborn toddler now demanding her way and don’t help, will be challenging my stress level for how long? When will she grasp the limitations I put in place for her and stop trying to push it? (dumb question I realized this after I wrote is since there will be evolving changes all the time.) The hardest part about meeting her demands is when my husband so honestly pointed out “How will you be able to deal with BOTH of us?” See he exudes much of the same childlike intolerance for when things don’t go his way, minus the body flailing.
There are far more smiles, hugs and expressions of cooperation then there are the no’s, the tears and the tantrums. With both my hubby and my toddler I will keep practicing patience, choosing by battles and providing loving support when it’s accepted.
And when my husband voluntarily gets up with my daughter in the morning and serves her chicken, pepperoni and cherries for breakfast. I’ll just say “Thank you for letting me sleep in” and wake up tomorrow. Life is perfect right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.