May 15, 2017

How to keep the peace and stay on schedule while raising an independent child.


If you’ve ever had a 2-year-old, you may know the feeling of walking on eggshells around her, not knowing what may set her off. This was pretty much the story of my family a couple of years ago. My daughter was in full-on “I DO IT!” mode. Whether opening a snack bag without her permission, or daring to brush her hair, we never knew when we would need to diffuse a bomb. Here are four tips for maintaining your sanity when “I do it myself!” begins in your house.

1. Start everything earlier.

It’s not always possible to plan ahead, but try getting an early start whenever possible. A 2-year-old will want to do things on her own — anything from pouring her own breakfast cereal to using her tiny little legs to climb into her car seat by herself. Life will just take longer.

2. Count to 10.

While you’re counting, remember that kids have their own speeds. They don’t comprehend our rushed world. Counting to 10 to myself not only reinforces my patience but also somewhat diminishes the frustration in my voice. As parents we often say “go, go, go, hurry, hurry, hurry.” (Wouldn’t we love to have a dollar for every time we’ve said that?) Getting dressed, using the bathroom, eating — everything takes longer when children want to do it independently. In those 10 seconds, maybe I won’t yell, “hurry up!”

3. Limit options.

Just like adults, children can be overwhelmed with too many options. My daughter has two drawers containing seasonally appropriate clothes for preschool. With fewer choices, deciding what to wear is simpler. This also works with snack choices. If we are short on time, I will often pull out two items myself and have her choose between them. This can work, but I try to be prepared for the refusal of both items.

4. Learn to live with imperfection.

Clothes won’t match. Hair won’t be combed. Teeth won’t be completely brushed. Shoes will often be on the wrong feet. But hey, clothes and shoes will be on! The hair and teeth won’t be great, but they’ll be good enough. Focus on the effort she made, without mentioning the outcome.

Parents as well as kids will benefit by encouraging the independence that starts with “I do it myself.” I hope my daughter’s independent mindset will continue into her adult life.

Do you have a child in “I do it myself” mode? What tips can you add?

When your “I do it!” toddler shows interest in conquering the potty, check out these tips for saving your sanity during toilet training.

This post was written Shabnam Aminmadani, a blogger, human resources professional and mother of three.