You know that stage toddlers get to where they want to do everything themselves? That moment when your two-year old doesn’t want your help putting on her shoes because, as she says, “I can do it myself!”
Yeah, that phase that you’re sort of glad they’ve reached because, yay, independence, but also a little frustrated by because, damn, it takes that kid a long time to put on her freaking socks and shoes.
That phase is one that Olivia never reached. When she was two years old, she still wasn’t walking, let alone putting on her own shoes.
When she finally started walking at 29 months old, her hands were still weak enough that there was not inclination on her part to start zipping her coat or picking up her spoon and feeding herself.
Because of all of this, we’ve created a ten-year old monster. She would really rather NOT have to do anything herself, thank you very much.
When I tell her to do things, like, oh, sit down to dinner and eat, she’ll look at me like I’m crazy and ask, “Why do I have to feed myself?”
Our current canned response is, “Because you’re ten and you have arms and hands. Just do it.”
Then she’ll sigh dramatically and act like we’re being the meanest parents in the world and finally, FINALLY sit down and feed herself. But it can be a battle.
Shoes and socks are still a struggle but again, we remind her that she’s ten, she can do it. Sure, her hands are still weak, hence the need for weekly OT at school. But she CAN do it. She just doesn’t want to.
In January, I started making her fasten her own seatbelt. She was so mad at me. She whined, she fussed, she acted like I was making her hug a cat. But after a few weeks, it was no big deal. In the beginning, I’d pull the seatbelt out and hold it for her while she snapped it in. Now, she climbs in the car, pulls her own door shut, pulls out the seatbelt and fastens the things all by herself.
She CAN do so much. We just have to keep reminding her of her own abilities because that need that most kids develop at two or three years to do everything themselves skipped over Olivia. She’d so much rather you just do it for her, please and thank you.
But by doing things for her, we are doing her no favors, even if she believes otherwise. So we’ll keep being ‘mean’ to her for her own good. Someday she’ll thank us. Really.