Should I Help My Toddler?

girl, daughter, preschool, scissors, paper, art, glue, red, brunette, polka dots, purple, mess, table, wood, chair

My daughter is 3.5 and wants to do things on her own. Should I help her or let it be?

It can be TOUGH – especially when you have to be somewhere – to let kids DO on their own, but making the time for accomplishments in independence is so important. Kids learn by doing, they gain self-esteem by doing, and they become problem solvers by doing.

Sometimes it’s not actually the time needed, but the perceived danger that has us stepping in and thwarting an act of independence. Sure your kid can get hurt from those kid scissors that they are using to open their snack pack, but they can also get hurt walking down the sidewalk. You have seen it. One minute they are walking, then next, FACE PLANT.

Sure, they may fall off of the stool while reaching for something, but they also fall off of a bed or swing. Of course, we don’t want our kids hurt, but we cannot protect them from everything.

A little scratch or a drop or two of blood will be forgotten, but the feeling of accomplishment when they open the bag or get that book off of the shelf will live on and motivate them to do more for themselves.

There are some things that kids don’t need to try.

Your 3-year-old does not need to iron, stoke a fire, or carve the turkey at Thanksgiving. But they CAN help cut and prep food for dinner. These are great knives (not an affiliation) for kids to use. They can make their lunch, open snacks, put their shoes on – the list goes on.

Kids can also do many jobs around the home.

Kids can put their clothes away (not perfectly, but at least it’s done). They can help clean their space after a meal and carry plates to the sink or counter. They can put their coats on, carry their backpacks, and grab a water from the fridge.

Before jumping in to stop your child, before saying no – ask yourself why you care. Is it really dangerous? It is really out of their league? Most of the time it won’t be. Let those kids DO and watch their independence and self-esteem soar. Also relish in the bit of found time that you now have.

Oh, and last hint. It can be tough to watch a kid do a task.

It can take forever, they seem to do it “wrong”, and it’s messy. Here’s my advice: DON’T WATCH. As long as they are safe, DO NOT WATCH. Walk away from the child! Otherwise, you will end up micromanaging them, then they will get mad, then you will get mad, tantrums from everyone will ensue, and everyone feel like, YUCK. And that’s not a good use of the found time, right?

You got this. Let those kids do stuff!

Brandi Davis, ACC, is a professional Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by
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