Creating Independence in your Kids

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by bkpjlp, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. bkpjlp

    bkpjlp Well-Known Member

    My 3 1/2 yr old singleton is driving me crazy with the "help me mommy!" "No you do it!" phase. It's all simple things I'm asking her to do. Go to the pantry and get your cereal out. Get dressed. Get her shoes on. We have such a battle with tears and all (her's, not mine ;) ). She can do all this by herself at daycare, but when I'm around she needs me to do it, which is telling me that she needs more one-on-one time with me. Anyway, how have you worked on that independence? I'm trying to reward her, praise her, encourage her. I obviously need to fit more alone time with her. Any other tips?
  2. HRE

    HRE Well-Known Member

    :hug: Oooh, that's a tough one. I do a variety of things...depending on the situation or my mood. Sometimes I use bribery (yep, I totally believe in bribery) put your shoes on quickly without a fuss, and when we get home you can have a popsicle (but I use things I would have allowed/given regardless...just make them sounds like a reward).

    Sometimes I do the "alright, then I'll go without you. If you would like to come along, hurry and get your shoes on." and then walk away toward the car or whatever. They don't know you really wouldn't leave without them, and it makes it happen.

    :hug: It's tough!
  3. Minette

    Minette Well-Known Member

    Sometimes it can help to let them help with grownup tasks too. For instance, Amy will flat-out refuse to put her clothes on, but 5 minutes later will come dancing into the kitchen asking to help me cook breakfast. She also loves to help carry the groceries inside, get the newspaper, feed the cat, and various other things that she thinks of as grownup work. I'm hoping that eventually, her joy at helping with these tasks will carry over into a desire to take care of her own body and clothes!

    On the flip side, we also use a lot of logical consequences: "Here are your dirty clothes that you just took off. Please put them in the hamper. If they're still on the floor the next time I walk through this room, they will go on the high shelf in the closet and you won't be able to wear them again for a few weeks." (This works surprisingly well even if they aren't attached to those particular clothes!)

    I also give time incentives. I look at the clock and announce, "OK, it's 7:00. If you have your pajamas on by 7:10, we'll have time for three stories. If it's 7:15, only two stories..." etc. Even though they can't really tell time, they tend to go along with whatever the clock says (and I don't lie). That also takes some of the pressure to nag off of me, because I've totally put the ball in their court.

    I try not to threaten to leave without them -- first of all because I always swore I would never do that, and also because I try not to make threats I have no intention of carrying out. Also, it really terrifies my kids, and tends to escalate the situation. (But if it worked for us, I'd probably do it!)

    I do need to remember your point about them wanting more time with me. I get incredibly frustrated by this behavior too (especially since, as you said, they do all this stuff just fine at preschool), but that's probably at the root of it.
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  4. BRMommy

    BRMommy Well-Known Member

    One of my boys was the same way when he was your daughter's age. I tried everything, incentives, coaxing, talking, alone time, etc. Nothing really worked. In the end, I just gave in and decided that he is in a phase when he needs me to help him with everything. So I dropped everything and did what he asked for a while, even though I knew he was capable of doing it himself. It was hard because I had a younger baby who needed alot of attention, but I think he needed to know that he was my priority. It lasted for about 6 months. Now, he is past that phase and is more independent.
  5. twoin2005

    twoin2005 Well-Known Member

    I definitely agree that these things go in phases. Sometimes you just need to ride it out. But there are a few tricks that have helped me along the way, even during those trying phases of dependence on mommy. For one, if they want mommy's help, then they lose some decision-making. For example, if you want me to put your shirt on, then I get to choose the shirt you wear. If YOU want to choose the shirt, then YOU have to put it on. Same goes with shoes, which seems to be a big one. It works for almost anything. For example, my kids can easily get themselves a cup of water when they are thirsty. But yet, they want me to do it for them. Great, I'll do it, but I get to choose the cup. If YOU want to choose the cup, then YOU need to get your own water.

    The other thing that works is, "Let's do it together." I'll get the bowl and spoon, and you get the cereal. Or I'll put on your shirt and you put on your pants. This often satisfies their desire for attention, but let's them take care of some responsibilities.
  6. Mellizos

    Mellizos Well-Known Member

    I hate to scare you, but mine are still doing it at nearly 6. It drives us bonkers. They're more than happy to sneak into the basement to watch a video in the early morning, but then cry that they are scared to go down there alone to retrieve their shoes. I've yet to find a solution, but it's reached the point that we flatly refuse to help them with something like putting their shoes on or getting dressed. :nea:
  7. Utopia122

    Utopia122 Well-Known Member

    Some days are better than others here, too. I encourage them to do as much on their own as they can, but there are some days that it's just better for me not to fight with them about it. When they are in a good, helpful mood, I give them as much independent time as they'll take, but when they get grouchy, I just don't push it. I figure soon enough they'll be not needing my help and I'll be one sad mommy.

    Things I do is let them pick out their own clothes and shoes, especially when we aren't going anywhere for the day. They usually always clean up after themselves after dinner time (put forks in the sink, throw away paper plates)..they like that because that means they can get up from the table. Get their own apples and such out of the fridge. Let them decide between choices about what they would like to eat for breakfast or lunch if we aren't having anything hot.

    I think just letting them make decisions fosters as much independence as them doing things.
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