Help me to do it myself

I’ve been reading a lot of Montessori books lately as I work on fixing up part of the basement to be a sort of preschool learning area for Tuesday. The phrase, “Help me to do it myself” comes up a lot. I love the idea of it, but we’re having trouble with the implementation over here. I know it’s normal to have whining and fussing and such, but oh man does it get on my nerves. I don’t understand it either because if Tuesday simply asked me for say, her sweatshirt off because she was hot, I’d take it off no problem. But instead she just starts freaking out and squealing that she is HOT!!! And ripping at her sweatshirt (like seriously out of nowhere). I don’t mind helping her with things but she tends to be happier when she figures out how to do them. So how do I encourage this?
I’ve tried showing her over and over how something works. That does help some. I feel like really explaining why we are doing something helps. Mostly I just try to be as patient as possible when she freaks out. I found myself starting to count to three the other day and totally took a step back, whoa. I’d love any other ideas for patient parenting through this (I’m assuming normal) part of toddler hood.

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  1. That photo is adorable!
    I wish I had the answer as we’re going through the same things, we just keep showing her over and over. We’ve been working on getting dressed alone. She does well but has been struggling with putting her shirt on correctly… we just keep on showing and trying to “help” a little without her noticing. She struggles, then when she accomplishes her task “alone” she gains a lot of confidence to keep on doing it. She is finally able to get completely dressed by herself (although choosing the outfits still needs a lot of assistance!). As for the sudden freak out attacks, I try to not jump to her rescue, I attempt (usually somewhat successfully) to calm her down and then ask her to tell me the problem and we work on a solution together.
    Good luck!

  2. wow! she looks so much like you in that photo!!! look at all that hair! and hey, some are hysteric screamers when they can’t do something (georgia) and some just figure it out without the hysterics (dean). I don’t think there is anything you can do! hang in there, and keep counting. πŸ˜›

  3. Amber I’d like to comment on how completely patient you ARE with her. Granted she was happy and adorable while we were there, and that can change everything πŸ˜‰ But that was one thing I noticed in the short time we were there. You directed her in a way that she understood, and she was able to do things that I thought were pretty neat–put her dirty clothes where they go, climbing up and down from the table, following your directions.
    I know it’s been a long time since my kids were that small, but I think you are so patient with her, and it shows. That is one thing I’m always hoping will happen to me–that I become more patient! lol
    As far as the whining goes? It gets better, then it gets worse! Clara is in a total meltdown/whiney stage right now. Extremely hard to handle.
    A side note about the counting…I count in my head to cool my reactions (could always use more wait to respond time…lol) and then I count backwards from 5 for Jake and Clara…I used to count up from 1, but it didn’t seem as effective. But if you aren’t a counter/don’t want to go that route, more power to you!! πŸ™‚

  4. Ok. I have to admit that I caught myself counting to 3 the other day… to my DOGS… How sad is that?!? I felt like an idiot. But hey, it made them stop what they were doing when I burst into a fit of laughter! πŸ™‚ Tuesday is great. Thanks for letting her come play yesterday!

  5. What an adorable photo! She has such beautiful green eyes. I have to say this is all normal and just part of being a toddler. Our almost two year old does the exact same thing. I know she will grow out of it someday. My daughter seems to want to do everyting herself, but gets very upset and freaks out when she cannot figure it out. Patience is something they do not have a lot of at this age. I keep telling myself that it will get easier. Hang in there.

  6. Same thing here. When I try to help Chloe points at me and says “NO! BAD!” I cant help but laugh when she does it! Sometimes I just let her go crazy with a fit, if there is nothing she will let me do, but usually I will be able to redirect her, and then sneakily slip in the help she needed in the first place. Chloe is really into pretending, so I toss a blanket on her and say, night night. she thinks it is really funny, and this is how I put her pants on/off or do whatever she didn’t want me to help her with. Maybe redirection would work for Tuesday? Isn’t this the independence phase? I don’t think anyone could give you any advice to make you a better mom- you are already the best! Keep it up. I also LOVE that photo!

  7. I have to totally agree with every thing Mary said. Watching you with her is a joy! You are so very patient with her. You direct her in ways she can do things for herself. You are teaching her such good things.
    I’m not a parent, but I have helped raise several kids from birth to teenagers via babysitting (18 years with one family), and I think the whining is a phase – just something that needs to be handled consistently (which I’m sure you are)and eventually she’ll get the hang of it.
    Being two is hard. And you, my friend, are doing an excellent job as a parent!

  8. Lindsey,
    I’m so glad you mentioned the getting dressed thing. I never thought to let her try, but I did yesterday and she was so proud of herself! I am still working on not jumping to the rescue for most things, it’s hard… especially when I’m in a hurry!

  9. Awe thanks Mary – it was so nice to have you visit with your wonderful kids! Tuesday is still playing the run and jump game they taught her πŸ™‚ I don’t really mind counting, except she doesn’t know what it means and it was really not coming from a kind place.

  10. Yes, Carmen, I need to utilize Tuesday’s love of pretend more too! And I’ve heard that making things more funny than stressful is good, so I do try to that.

  11. I know grown ups who don’t know how to communicate what they want. It’s easier for me to see (being on the outside) that Tuesday is a rarity. In control and in temperament. I’ve been around a lot of families so take my word for it. Since no one else has said itβ€”I’m also going to tell you to chill out with her sometimes. THERE! Tuesday will find her way, she’s smart like that.

  12. Amber, I have an almost 2 year old and she’s in the same stage. It’s been coming on stronger the past few weeks. I use redirecting or let her try to figure it out first and tell her I can help if she needs it and she usually takes me up on it and it works out really well. I’m trying to remember to do under the breath counting on my part if I get frustrated, I’ve heard that works well from other moms and you won’t say things you don’t mean in the moment. I’ve also been told to relax and know I could often πŸ™‚ Oh, another thing, and this probably isn’t the best strategy, but we use it in a good way, which is saying that if she gets dressed, we can go to storytime or something along those lines. That usually motivates her and avoids problems.

  13. Brice is the same about things. Specifically about getting his Buzz Lightyear feet to be just the right way. I try and help, but it’s never right, so now I just tell him he has to do it himself. If he wants his feet just so, then he is the one to do it. I feel awful sometimes telling him he needs to stop whining and figure it out, but it always works. And now I get asked less and less often to do it for him. So I guess with the sweatshirt, you just have to say to her “I’ve shown you how to take off your sweatshirt. You can do it.” and maybe after a few times she will just do it. πŸ™‚

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