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How do you deal with a child's insistence that they have to do everything them self?

(25 Posts)
onedayimightforget Tue 15-Nov-16 20:46:49

I'm sick of hearing "I'm going to do it", especially when it comes to something she simply can't do. She's almost 3 yo and she is fiercely independent, but I don't know how best to handle this. It's everything - she's going to dress herself, put cream on herself, wash herself, give herself medicine, brush her own teeth. Some things she can do - like getting dressed, that's fine, not a problem, it takes longer for her to do it but she can do it and it takes longer to have a tantrum over not doing it than it does to just let her do it! But teeth brushing, she can't do effectively. Washing herself, she misses bits. Putting cream on - not really safe when it's medical.

How do you deal with this? I don't want to stifle her independence but I don't want to always give in to her. When it's something like teeth brushing and we insist that either me or DH does it she'll have a tantrum. I worry that the more we give in to her the more she'll think she can do it all ourself and we'll have more battles about things we currently don't. We try to let her do a bit, like washing herself, we'll say "you can wash your tummy and I'll do your arms" but even that can lead to a tantrum because she wants to do it all. I kind of had an idea tonight that she could "do" it, but I would "check" it after. So at least she would feel she had tried first and I would have the opportunity to check after. But she was putting her pyjama top on, couldn't get it over her head and when I tried to help her she had a meltdown and insisted that only DH could help her with her top. It's bloody ridiculous but in the scheme of things, does it really matter who helps her put her top on? I try to pick our battles and not argue about the little stuff but there seems to be more and more little stuff, that doesn't really matter, that she's becoming really previous/insistent about.

Please tell me she'll become more rational when she turns 3!

onedayimightforget Tue 15-Nov-16 20:48:38

Precious, not previous!

Poocatcherchampion Tue 15-Nov-16 20:53:32

She becomes more rational!

My middle child is this child. She is now 3 and a quarter (in case the months matter!) And has far fewer tantrums and sometimes just lets me do it.

It feels like the sunshine following a storm grin

kiki22 Tue 15-Nov-16 20:56:00

I have a 'I can do it' kid I just had to teach him how to do it. I explained that he can do it but he has to do it right so I would sit at the side of the shower and say do your leg now do your other leg now your tummy and so on the same with teeth I watched intently pointing out what he missed and reminding him if he didn't do it all I would have to , I also made it clear I was happy to let him do it but it's my job to make sure it's done right. Long long boring frustrating process but at 4.5 he is almost entirely self sufficient.

Katkin14 Tue 15-Nov-16 21:03:52

I have a very independent 2.5 year old. I try to give him independence when ever it reasonably fits in with our lives with things like you've said e.g. Letting him dress himself if there's time, choosing what he's going to wear, if he has a bath or a shower. Sometimes for whatever reason e.g. we're on a tight schedule he just has to let me do it. Even if he tantrums, even if it takes longer because he tantrums, I just insist and eventually get him dressed. I've found being consistent and when I say he has to do something, following through on that and making sure it happens exactly as I've told him it will, he's learnt over the last few months (maybe he hit the terrible twos earlier?!) that it's easier just to go with the flow than tantrum.

onedayimightforget Tue 15-Nov-16 21:08:41

I'm looking forward to the sunshine! She goes through phases, for a while she'll be like this and there'll be 412 tantrums in a day. And then for a while there will be nothing and she'll be completely lovely. And then the tantrums start again and then we're back to loveliness. I have a 5 month old and I said to my husband the other day "do you think DD2 is an easier baby than DD1?" because I really feel she is BUT, I think it's more having the direct comparison between DD2 now and DD1 now. Give me a newborn any day, I'm already dreading DD2 being a toddler!

Sometimespostingalwayslurking Tue 15-Nov-16 21:10:59

I could have written your post word for word! Sorry no real advice. With regards to the teeth brushing I just make sure she knows to scrub in the corners as well - always a bit hit and miss. I am hoping it will just get better over time..

onedayimightforget Tue 15-Nov-16 21:18:27

I'm constantly saying in my head "will you just fucking let me do it?"

Trinpy Tue 15-Nov-16 21:18:29

With teeth brushing I let my ds have a go first then I give him the option of either standing up while I brush his teeth or sitting on my lap while I brush his teeth (he hates sitting on my lap). If he won't choose then I say 'oh sitting on my lap then?'. Once he realises that there's only 2 options he will choose the standing up option. Sometimes I tell him the dentist says I have to brush them too works as well.

Other things like getting dressed, poring drinks, or taking the bastard lids of yogurts, if I can see he's struggling I ask him if he wants to do it together. That way he can accept help without admitting defeat!

Hope any of that helps!

Trinpy Tue 15-Nov-16 21:19:34


gaelicgirl100 Tue 15-Nov-16 21:39:21

I have a VERY independent 3 year old and I try to work with her with things like getting ready. I try to create the illusion of her being in control, so limited choices and picking my battles.

For getting dressed, I'll give her a choice before we are even near the wardrobe , dress or trousers, so she then chooses which dress, then I take the dress and I turn it so she puts it on the right way, all underwear etc has bows or characters on the front so she knows which is the front, I hover but never intervene. I'll say just tell mummy if you need help, then let her spend 20 mins realising she can't tie laces, THEN she comes to me for help and there is no meltdown since she's in control.

I also do a little (subtle) tutorial sometimes for her when I'm getting dressed, very boring but she's learning. Or if we are brushing teeth I say you do it first then mummy will do it, take as long as you need but you only get to do it yourself if you let me do it afterwards. Careful negotiation and being able to take our time with things works for us.

We are fortunate to have an afternoon nursery spot so can spend three hours getting dressed in the morning but I know this isn't an option for everyone smile

gaelicgirl100 Tue 15-Nov-16 21:48:18

my DD also gets more anxious the more I hover when she says 'I can do it' so sometimes I'll just walk away and let her do it. I try to never say she's put it on 'wrong' (PFB I know!) I will just say, 'it goes on the other way' or if it's a coat that she's determined to have open in arctic temps I'll give her the option of one button or all buttons done but not open. She thinks about it and will choose.
I see MIL struggling with this because she likes to hover and do everything for her and my DD just wants space.

onedayimightforget Tue 15-Nov-16 22:24:45

Thank you all for the tips. I'll try them. I think maybe stepping away from her might help. I do worry sometimes that I'm being too relaxed with her and should put my foot down and insist that she does it my way, that maybe the freedom will make her spoilt, but in reality I can't bear to go through a 10 minute tantrum about something so trivial each and every time. Maybe it's a sign that she's too spoilt already (PFB who was 12 weeks prem, definitely spoilt!)

kiki22 Wed 16-Nov-16 10:46:52

She's not spoiled there is nothing wrong with a child wanting to do things for themselves intact when we had our school induction they told us they have lots of problems with kids not being able to take care of themselves things like hand washing and getting changed for pe putting shoes on and would parents please try to teach kids before the start. IMO taking the time to teach your child something they want to learn makes you a better parent than doing everything for them because its quick and easy.

laurzj82 Wed 16-Nov-16 11:00:47

My 2.7 dd is like this. Also looking forward to the sunshine!

BertieBotts Wed 16-Nov-16 11:06:55

Leave loads of time and let her do it as much as possible. Don't help her until she asks for help. That includes helpful comments! Information (like the other way) is OK but basically, let her figure it out for herself, she'll get there, even though it's quicker when you do it.

When it's something that can be re-done, like teeth, try "taking turns" ? So DD has a turn, then it's Mummy's turn. You could even let her do some stuff to you, like let her "brush" your teeth.

It's good that she wants to do things because it means she'll be more independent. Also, don't worry, when she's about four she'll insist that you do everything again hmm

StubbleTurnips Wed 16-Nov-16 11:12:52

I spend a lot of my time like this hmm

DD is 3.5 and stubbornly independent secretly proud so we introduced 'checks' when she's doing things herself. I also let her check what we're doing, ie teeth brushing 'can I just check that tricky back tooth?' Leads to quick toothbrush by us.

She was checking DH tied his laces right this morning, he was then told he was good and Santa would be pleased grin

Last night she was grating cheese for tea and when 'checking' I told her not to sneak eat any... Trying to make the ball ache of cooking dinner "fun" grin

Ida3456 Wed 16-Nov-16 11:21:01

Yes we do a lot of 'checks' so she brushes her teeth and then I 'check' (ie do it again)

I get 2 outfits out everyday and she gets to choose which one (I am super consistent with this - if she doesn't choose then I pick)

For other things I just pick my battles eg getting dressed herself

It drives me mad when we are in a rush though

SnotGoblin Wed 16-Nov-16 11:24:28

The illusion of control (which coat would you like to wear today), allowing her to try to do it while I take seventy eight deep breaths and calmly try to explain that it's okay to ask for help when you can't do something...

Zipideedodah Wed 16-Nov-16 11:27:45

An approach I found useful was "let me begin the task and you can finish it." Toddlers love the satisfaction of completing a task.

onedayimightforget Wed 16-Nov-16 14:48:44

These are all really helpful tips, thank you. So maybe I was on the right track with checking - "checking" meaning I'll do it again after if necessary. You're right I should try and see it as an opportunity for teaching and learning - if she's keen to learn to do something now I should capitalise on that rather than trying to have a battle to teach her something she doesn't want to learn. She can dress herself and put her shoes on so I just need to allow the extra time to do it. We could teach her to wash herself, I think she'd like the independence of that. And for other stuff I'll try the checking.

DD2 will probably be the complete opposite and refuse to do anything herself!!

StubbleTurnips Wed 16-Nov-16 15:18:08

I like your suggestion Zip will try that here!

Oneday I find it mainly works, as long as she's amenable, with the request that she can 'check' what we're doing. It appeals to her bossy side developing sense of leadership skills smile

onedayimightforget Wed 16-Nov-16 15:30:05

Haha, yes mine is also working on her leadership skills!

arrrrghhwinehelpswithteens Sun 20-Nov-16 10:09:36

Oh I remember those days! With teeth, we had a timer and she had to brush until it went off - could you get toothpaste that shows when you have missed a bit aso she can see the colour? (Not brand naming but I know Colgate do an adult one so assume there will be a junior one).

We did the 'shall we do it together' until DD got the hang of things. Frustrating and I'm not the most patient of people bit we got there and even at 15 there are things she prefers me to do for her (like putting her hair into its bun for cadets).

It will bet easier, honest.

arrrrghhwinehelpswithteens Sun 20-Nov-16 10:11:39

Damned autocorrect. Get easier I meant

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