Your Bucket of Joy is More Like a Bundle of Stubbornness
Remember when your little one was a tiny, helpless baby and couldn’t even reach for something specific, let alone grab it? Well those days are over. Now your bundle of joy is more like a bucket of stubbornness, always wanting to test out that newfound sense of independence. You might find yourself fighting the urge to shriek, “Just! Let me! Help you!” but you don’t (okay, at least not every time) because you know that doing things on their own is the way toddlers learn to navigate their world. Even if it takes them twenty extra minutes to do eeeeeeverything.
You can assist in the development of fine motor skills by providing fun opportunities to use them. A box full of dress-up clothes, for example, is a great way for your toddler to play and learn at the same time: putting on socks, buttoning big buttons, zipping. Even if your little one can’t exactly do all those things at this point, he’ll still get plenty of practice and a chance to hone his skills. (And keep your camera handy because he’ll look adorable while doing it. Hello new Facebook cover photo!)
Frustration is the word of the day. Or, more accurately, the theme of the entire phase. Because you’ll both inevitably be frustrated: you, by how much longer and more complicated even the simplest tasks become, and your toddler, by her own limitations. Try scheduling a longer time to complete daily tasks to make up for the extra minutes taken up by your tiny DIY-er. And — as difficult as this can be — try to resist the impulse to help as soon as your toddler flounders at something, even if she’s exasperated. Letting her work things out on her own, even if it takes several tries (AND IT WILL), fosters independence and teaches a valuable lesson in problem-solving.
Scary Mommy Tip: A little empathy and encouragement can go a long way. When your little one is having a frustrated meltdown, say something like, “I know you’re frustrated because the button is hard to get into the hole. It would make me upset too.” Reassure her that she can try it again — and if she’s just over it, ask if she’d like you to help. (Then take a deep breath and hope she’ll let you, so you can go on about your day!)