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Toddlers think they can do everything

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
Have you ever noticed when a child is three-years-old they can do everything? OK, they can't actually do everything–they just think they can.
No, seriously. My wonderfully independent three-year-old son's favorite words are currently, "No! Me do it!" One day one of the other kids was feeding our dogs. Well, Logan wanted to do it. So what did he do? He dumped all the dog food back into the bag and then re-fed the dogs. The poor dogs were really very confused. They just stood there watching as Logan picked up their bowls, dumped the food back into the bag, set the bowls down and then picked them back up and refilled them.
Logan wants to wake his siblings in the mornings. (No, they don't always appreciate the way he does it.) Logan wants to get his own clothes. (No they don't always match.) Logan wants to get his own bowls, cups, plates, spoons, forks, etc. He will even take what you've gotten out and put it in the dirty dishes so he can get his own. (No, I don't find humor in this.)
It's just amazing how he wants to do it all. However, most of my kids have gone through the "me do it" stage. Actually, this stage can be very helpful as well as very frustrating. At this age, my kids loved to help load the dishwasher, do laundry, feed the pets, put things away, and help with chores. (Shame it didn't last through those wonderful teenage years.)
Unfortunately, there are also some hazards involved with the "me do it" stage. You see, it falls under the heading of "just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it." Yes, Logan can jump from the top of the stairs. No, Logan shouldn't jump from the top of the stairs. Yes, Logan can use a sharp knife to cut his chicken, but no he shouldn't do it. Yes, Logan can pour his own Kool-Aid from a full pitcher, but no he probably shouldn't unless you just really want to mop the floor. Yes, Logan . . .well, you get the idea.
I had a mom tell me one time she just wished she could lock her child in a closet until this stage was over. She said things just went so much faster if she did everything herself. Well, she's right–things do sometimes go faster when you just do them yourself, but you're really not doing yourself any favors. After all, we do want our children to become independent – right?
I know they can pick some of the most inconvenient times to try their independence. When my oldest daughter decided it was time to learn to tie her shoes, we were already running 10 minutes late for pre-school. My oldest son decided he wanted to pick out his own clothes – the day we were to have pictures taken.
I believe the trick is to allow them to make as many decisions as reasonably possible. For example, if picking clothes is the issue I may lay out two or three choices and let them pick from those choices. Another way I sometimes handle it is to say, "Today I will pick your clothes and tomorrow you can."
I also try to compromise as much as possible. Logan is really into cutting his own food. Obviously, a sharp knife in the hands of a three-year-old is a really bad idea, so my solution is to let him use a dull butter knife whenever possible. Since I've started doing this, he's more agreeable to letting me cut other things that a butter knife won't work on.
If it's something that's just too big for him to handle, like a full pitcher of Kool-Aid, I try to put some in a smaller pitcher he can manage. I don't like him buttering his toast out of the large container of margarine so I put some in a small container and let him have at it. Before you ask, yes he does make a mess. I just remind myself that most everything in my house is washable and of course, "Children are a gift from God. Children are a gift from God. Children are a . . . "
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