Thursday, January 24, 2013

I need some Mama advice.... or "I do it myself!!!" Or "this is a long post"

Let me just say that one of the things I love about Rhian most is her fierce independence.  She wants to do EVERYTHING herself.  EVERYTHING.  She is a very smart little girl, with a vocabulary and ability to express herself that is far beyond her years.  I'm proud of how hard she tries to do everything, and am amazed at how much she can do.

Can you see where this post is going?

She won't let anyone help her do anything.  Ever.  It is maddening.  And has caused serious meltdowns.  The best (worst) example I can give was taking her home from gymnastics one day. She wouldn't put her shoes on so we could go home, and she would not let me help her.  I indulged it for a while, but pretty soon we were the only ones from her class there, and I was impatient.  Ultimately I scooped up my child, took her shoes, and carried her to the car.  Then came the meltdown to end all meltdowns...

At first she tried running through the parking lot back to the gym, to start over.  She was flailing around so much I couldn't get her into the car seat - I was afraid I would hurt her, and 40 minutes later we were still in the parking lot.  At one point I just put her on the car floor, shut the door, and hung out outside until she calmed down.  She cried and cried and cried.  Finally got her in the car seat, and as we were driving home - all she could say through her tears was "I wanted to put my shoes on myself".

She also refused to get dressed one day, and I had to get to work.  It was actually snowing outside (doesn't happen here too much) and I just scooped up my naked kid and carried her outside.  She eventually said she'd get dressed and I took her in to do so.  She did.

The other thing she does is start over from the very, very beginning if you do anything for her she wants to do herself.  From taking off all her clothes if you dressed her and starting over again.  To running back downstairs if you carried her up to the tub.

Its madness.

So, I thought I had it licked.  Until daycare called.  And she had the epic meltdown in the bathroom where they thought she would bonk her head on the toilet.  All because she wouldn't let the teacher help her get dressed because it was outside time.

Today, Mom picked her up from daycare, was told about the incident and told that she had to learn the rules and let the teachers help her - because they have a schedule and a routine to follow.

I agree she should learn the rules.  I disagree the teachers should be allowed to help.  First, it causes serious meltdowns, and second - I love her independence.

At home, we have mostly solved this problem.  I give Rhian every opportunity to do things herself.  Give her lots of time and lots of notice to get ready for whatever transition is up and coming, and if she doesn't do it - I "threaten" to help her.  She usually does it.  If she doesn't I start to help her, and she will then do it.  Now.  But it took a while to get to that point.

Don't you think the daycare can work with her, without forcing her to receive help - especially for things she can do herself.

Am I being unreasonable?  Deluded? Denial?  Am I THAT Mom?

And yes, she chose the clothes and put them all on herself before we left the house.

16 comments:

  1. Stunning photo. I agree that if daycare has a schedule they need to take Rhian away from whatever she's doing early so she can get herself ready. With more practise she will get faster. How old is she now?

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  2. Isn't that the fine line? I want my daughter to be a fiercely independent & strong willed woman...but as a toddler? It'd be nice if she wasn't so independent & strong willed!! I know I definitely wouldn't want the daycare to "break" this independent spirit by forcing her to conform to their routine. Does she need to learn to behave within the rules? Yes, absolutely but that doesn't mean there can't be compromise. Aren't children in school to learn? & I don't mean to learn to blindly conform.

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  3. I like your home strategy and think daycare should be willing to adopt it. She should be given a reasonable amount of time to do things herself, and then be told if she doesn't have it done in that amount of time, it will be done for her. It would be nice if they are willing to coach her through it - like, "in 5 minutes we are going outside, please put on your shoes and coat". Then, "Rhiann you now have 2 minutes to finish putting on your coat and shoes or I will do it for you."

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    1. My 3-year-old is exactly the same way. Since around the time she turned 2, the surest way to start a meltdown was to do something for her. She *always* wants to do it herself, even (and especially) when she can't (too small/short or just physically not capable). The "do it now or I will do it for you" strategy has always worked best for us, too, although it doesn't circumvent all tantrums. It's gotten better as she's gotten better at doing most things herself over the past several months, but it still happens from time to time. I think the daycare should use the same strategy. They shouldn't be that inflexible. Some kids will not give in no matter what, so refusing to be flexible just makes life more difficult for child and teacher/parent. I have a spirited kid, and I learned a very long time ago to choose my battles. And yes, sometimes I really can't wait any longer, and I have to force the situation with her kicking and screaming. But to the extent possible, I let her do what she can do herself, and at least let her try when she can't.

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  4. And by the way, you sound like you have the patience of a saint. I'd be challenged dealing with THAT much independence!

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    1. LOL! Only some days. Most days I'm exasperated...

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  5. I will say that I do not like the teachers helping her just so they can have their schedule. She is just a little girl (is she already three or not yet?), and if it takes her longer to dress by herself (and she is able and wants to!), they should let her.

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    1. I agree Billy. I think she is too young to conform to their schedule. But, they also have a daycare to run - so trying to find a compromise. For the most part, she loves the routine and the activities and follows along. Its just getting her out.the.door that is the usual issue.

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  6. I had this problem for a while, and we are on a tight schedule, so I didn't put up with it very long. I want independance but not when I'm late for work. It came down to some things she got to do on her own, and some things I did not have time to wait for. So that,along with bribery, and then taking things she wanted when she did have a tantrum, we now have a combo of her doing things and my helping. She is in a small day care so this is not too much of an issue, but I think it would be different if she were in a larger center.

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    1. R is in a larger centre, so it creates an issue since she holds the group up, trying to do up buttons, and get her hat on...

      I have to say, I like that she tries and is persistent.

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  7. It is a fine line, balancing the needs of the daycare group and the needs of your daughter to be ever so independent. If it continues to be an issue, I'd speak with the director who can then speak with her staff. Maybe you can negotiate a compromise. No, you're not "that" mom. Or, if you are, so are the rest of us!
    PS. I'm pretty sure a fierce sense of independence bodes well for future intelligence and leadership. Your little girl will go far!

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    1. Thanks, but when you are in the middle of it - it can be very hard to consider that this is a quality that will serve her well later.

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  8. By way of update. I had a talk with the daycare this morning, and we agreed that they would give her a 5 minute, a 3 minute and a 1 minute warning before the new task. And then let her try to do it herself. If not, they will tell her they will help, and I'm hoping that will do the trick.

    Today was a much better day for her.

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  9. I was just like that as a child. While I can't say I remember how my mom handled it, I will say that it did come back to bite me in the butt on several occasions. I had to learn (much later in life) that we can't ALWAYS do things for ourselves and that asking for help and letting people help us is not a bad thing. I'm still very head-strong and independent, but I have learned to value the help of others. Especially during my pregnancy. As much as I want to be Wonder Woman, carrying a 30lb crib box up my stairs and into my apartment is not an option!

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