The Fight for (Toddler) Independence

 My little boy is growing up!


Milo is currently full steam in the middle of a phase in which he is fighting for Independence. I chose the term 'fighting' for good reason as it best describes the struggle that often ensues when he's suddenly decided that he wants to take his shoes off himself, or open the bottle of water himself, or close the front door himself etc etc. The list of tasks that he now wants to attempt single-handedly goes on and on.

I must say that I meet his sudden need for independence with mixed emotions. On the one hand I am absolutely thrilled that he feels both the urge and the confidence to attack such tasks head on and that his mind and body are quite clearly telling him that he is ready (or at least almost ready) to build these new skills and to capably take on said tasks. The problem is though that each of these tasks (and it is almost everything now that he wants to tackle) now takes 4 times as long as normal (ie. when I would have done them myself) and they usually involve an outburst or two of frustration and anger from Milo, resulting in a head ache for me.

A good example of said need for independence appeared last week when Milo was drinking from a bottle of water. For quite some time now Milo has wanted to hold the bottle himself whilst drinking and then make a valid attempt at screwing the bottle cap/lid back on (he can usually make a good go at the beginnings of the lid being back on and then hands the bottle to me at which point I then sneakily finish the rest). All of a sudden however this wasn't enough. I dared to take the lid off the bottle myself before placing the bottle at a height at which Milo can reach for it himself (also part of the previous rules for drink time Milo style!) and all hell broke loose! You would have thought I had just told Milo that he was never going to be allowed to eat again! (a particularly heinous threat that would be for my son who eats mounds of food daily.) His reaction was so extreme. His arms began flailing. His body was flung to the floor and pained screams and cries flooded out of his mouth! The shere audacity of my behaviour was just too much to bare!

There was more of this behaviour this evening in the hour I had Milo today before putting him to bed. There were three high points of meltdown but the most noteable of the three was when I said to Milo, it's time for bed in a few minutes. He then, in quite an impressive slow motion style, threw himself from his push around car, on to the ground and then rolled around screaming. He gave that up pretty quickly and started asking for water. I said I'd go get him one and once again the screaming began. He then ran in to his room and I brought in a glass and placed it at his level so that he could help himself. Upon showing him where the glass was, the noise levels rose to a shrill extreme and I decided to just leave the room. As I quietly wandered past just mere seconds later, he was sat happily drinking from said glass as if nothing had happened?! Crazy!

You can perhaps see why I find Milo's need to show his ability to do everything himself a little on the tiring side. A little stretching of my patience sometimes. It is however a very important stage of toddlerhood and I know that the end results of all this annoyance, frustration and outright anger will be worth it eventually. This said, I thought I'd add a few interesting articles I've found online about independence, toddler style. I hope they help some of you going through the same parenting pains!

'The Terrible Two's: A Struggle for Independence' from over at 'Familyeducation.com'
'Toddler's Declaration of Independence' from over at 'Parents.com'

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