Learning to be independent
Many parents make the second year a difficult one by expecting a small child to do too many things for himself. During this year the toddler discovers that there are things he can do, such as take off or put on some of his clothes or feed himself. Some parents are so eager to encourage their little child to become independent that, as soon as they notice that he can put on his shoes or his shirt, they begin to insist that he always do it for himself. This is not wise. The one- to two-year-old child is still half a baby. His interest soon lags and he wants mother to help. It is best to let the toddler be the guide as much as possible. When he wants to feed himself, tries to take off his clothes at bedtime or naptime, attempts in his awkward baby way to dress himself, tries to climb into his crib, or wants to walk instead of ride, encourage him to do so. But as soon as he tires or loses interest, his mother should take up and finish the task. The child should lead, while his parents follow with praise and encouragement. Gradually they will find that he likes to do more and more for himself, and the times that he turns to them for aid will become less frequent. However, all through the pre-school years a child will want help when he is tired, unhappy, or unwell. The wise parent gives the help unconditionally and without belittling him.
If parents want their little child to be willing and eager to grow up, it is important that they help him find that doing things for himself is pleasant. If they force and scold him he will lose interest and stop finding pleasure in self-help. The child may even begin to cling to his parents all the more, as if he felt that being a baby were much more comfortable than growing up and being made to do things for himself. Many mothers and fathers discourage a child from being independent by such little things as scolding him when he is trying to feed himself and knocks over his milk. If he tries to walk they may get cross because he is so slow and they are in a hurry. When he tries to undress or, with great effort, to put on his shirt, mother may take it away from him and tell him he is too little and she is too busy to wait. (Continue below to page 4)