12 August 2014

Toddler Independence: An Occasionally Frustrating Adventure

Toddler independence is something we are trying to take with a grain of salt these days. Some days are frustrating for us as parents and equally as trying for Palmer. Being unable to effectively communicate what it is she wants or is trying to do is the first battle. Then come the tantrums; the kicking and screaming and flailing around on the floor. Then the frustration sets in. I all too often find myself getting frustrated with Palmer when she doesn't listen, but I need to imagine where she is coming from; her point of view.

She is a child learning about her environment and trying to gain the knowledge to succeed. Sometimes, allowing her to make mistakes, although it may be difficult to watch as a parent, will be the best way she can learn.

Here are a few things I am working on to make the transition a little easier on all of us.

1. Let her make her own decisions.
 I don't mean all decisions. I mean things like apple juice or orange juice with breakfast. Or do you want to wear this shirt or this dress? Simple things that can make her feel like she has the control. Palmer will happily point to which snack she wants after her nap or will choose from a variety of books which one to read before bed. It's simple things like this that can help her feel independent and allows us to keep our sanity, at least in that moment.

2. Patience.
This is a time of learning for Palmer; a time of figuring out the world around her. This won't happen in a minute/an hour/a day. It will take time and lots of patience from us as parents. So it takes Palmer 4 minutes to try to put on her shoes, yet she still gets it wrong. That's OK! Allot that extra 5 minutes it takes for her to get herself ready. So she's trying to use a fork but ends up with most of her spaghetti on her lap? This is why she eats naked for 95% of her meals! She can't eat with her hands and be this messy forever or she'll never get a date. No better time to learn.

3. Pick your battles.
I'm sure we have all heard this all too often. Is it really horrible that Palmer wants to wear two different shoes? No. Is it the worst thing in the world if she wants to wear a toque in the middle summer? No. Ridiculous? Yes. Horrible? No. Is it really worth watching your toddler throw themselves on the floor and acting like their entire world just came crashing down? I think not!
hey, at least they are the same kind of shoes, and there is a left and a right!
4. Keep your sense of humor. 
  I find Palmer will react better to my requests if I incorporate something silly. Making funny noises and silly faces will make her forget what she was mad about and help me clean up the toys. Keeping things funny will help you keep your sanity! I'm sure the people in the grocery store think I'm some kind of whacko crazy person, but at least I don't have a crying child!

This stage of toddlerhood is her finding the balance between her need for independence and her need for dependence. It can be difficult but also so amazing to watch Palmer grow and become this little person doing things for herself. Obviously, there are many things she still needs mom and dad for, but trying to differentiate what she can and can't do is hard.

Some days she wants to do things by herself. Other days, she wants mom and dad to help. Whatever type of day it is, we must remember, our little person is trying to develop into someone who knows what she wants and can think for herself.

And to remember....it's just a phase. It will pass, thank goodness!!!

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