Toddler Time: Me Do It!
Toddlers are so driven to explore and accomplish things themselves, that holding them back can frustrate them immensely. In fact, temper tantrums are often a toddler's way of expressing a need for independence, child development experts say.
Toddlers want to dress themselves, feed themselves, turn on the lights themselves. They also want to put the toothpaste onto the toothbrush, frost the cupcakes and give the dog a good brushing - by themselves!
Letting your toddler try things on his own is important; it helps him grow cognitively and emotionally. But it's not always feasible. Letting him brush the dog by himself could be dangerous, especially if your pet is not quite tolerant. Having him frost the cupcakes will be messy (and not desirable if those little cakes are intended for guests).
If you know that your toddler really can't do a task by herself:
  • Don't quash the request with statements like, "You can't do that; you're too little."
  • Do suggest teamwork: "Let's do it together" or "Let's be a team!"
If the task is simply too dangerous:
  • Don't over explain why he can't cross the street by himself or put cookies into a hot oven by himself.
  • Do use short, clear explanations: "Cars go fast on the street. We have to hold hands and cross together."
Try not to overuse the word "no" with your toddler. Save it for the most serious or dangerous situations. At other times, direct your child toward an alternative: "Let's hold that spatula together to spread the frosting on the cake" or "Here are two cupcakes just for you to frost by yourself!"


- Deirdre Wilson