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Fighting the self-help skills battle

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Are you fighting the self-help skills battle? Or better yet, the independence battle? Well, I'm sure the war wages on. There is nothing like trying to help a 3 year old to finish dressing but they insist on doing it themselves (therefore taking up more time). Or trying to potty train a 2 year old. Hence, the battle can be tiresome. But forge ahead brave warriors, because the reward you reap is worth it.

You know that old bible adage, 'Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for life.'? Well the same applies for promoting independence and self-reliance in your child. It is so easy to jump in and help your child when they need it. In fact, it is a left over reflex from when we needed to meet their every need (#baby stage). However, during their toddler and preschool years it can hinder their ability to do things on their own. Doing everything for them and not allowing them to figure things out for themselves, will also create a dependency.

A behavior is learned and sometimes really hard to reshape. Maybe your patience is a bit worn, especially when there is a time crunch to get out the door. In any case, any bit of information helps, so here are some tips for fighting that battle and winning the war. Believe me, you will be happy you did in the long run.

Tip #1: Choose your battles carefully! If the battle is over what to wear in the morning, give some choices. Not everything needs to be a power struggle. If your child doesn't want to eat breakfast in the morning, let them be. Maybe keep some snacks (healthy of course) in the car or your bag for mid-morning.

Tip #2: Use a timer. If your child is taking long to get ready in the morning [i.e. put coat on and zip up], use a timer to keep them on time. Start the zipper for them and have them finish it. This gives your child some control over the situation. Think shared control.

Tip #3: Be consistent and follow through. Potty training may be one of the hardest self-help battles. This is completely up to the child. As much as we would like to think we can make them go, it is just not so. One way to encourage potty training is to be aware of the preliminary signs. Moreover, keeping them on a schedule (which children thrive on) can also work well. For example, putting them on the potty after mealtimes, before bedtime, etc. Even if they don't actually go, you are building the routine of going at a particular time.

Tip #4: Let them do it! I can't reinforce this enough. The look of accomplishment that comes over their face is priceless. If it is something as simple as putting on their own shoes, or their own pants, let them do it! Yes it may take a little longer but plan for that and all will be well.



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