Monday, May 18, 2009


The most offensive word for my 2.5 year-old daughter is a b-word. B, of course, stands for baby. It's amazing how much she wants to grow up. She came from her preschool very excited last week and told us that the teacher was measuring them and she grew an inch. She keeps talking about growing into a big girl with big breasts and then into mommy. I can see why adult world has so much allure for her. Adults get to eat things that are not allowed to her (such as candies with alcohol in it), drive cars and stay up late. They are also all knowing and all powerful to her innocent eyes. And she wants to be powerful too. She tries so hard to be a big girl - she got a lot better in voluntarily cleaning up her toys, she wants to help in cleaning the table after dinner, and she is beyond excited when she is able to help in dinner preparation. However, chores are still beyond her ability of following up. I tried to get her to water the flowers in the front yard, but her enthusiasm only lasted 2 days. Still, every time she gets to make a decision and to accomplish something on her own, she makes a small but important step on the road to true competence. I hope that one day she will grow into a big girl who is able and willing to take responsibility for her own success.

For additional reading - here is an interesting article that I unearthed on the subject of raising competent children - Competence.

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Dr. Laura Markham said...

I love reading your blog. Your April 16 post on helping kids deal with frustration was terrific (and what a wonderful picture!)

Thanks so much for mentioning my article on competence. I thought you're also be interested in this piece from the TODDLER section of my website:

Toddlers fight with you less, tantrum less and cooperate more when they feel more powerful. How can you help your toddler feel more powerful? Three key ways: Listen to her, Let her make decisions whenever possible, and give her the opportunity to experience competence.

Toddlers need daily experience with work to gain confidence in their own capabilities and begin to think of themselves as competent people. I don’t mean burdensome work, I mean work in the spirit of Maria Montessori, and Tom Sawyer making the other kids think that white-washing the fence was the world’s best game.

Start with household tasks, not because they can really help you at this point, but because they gain skills for the future, because it's what you are engaged in anyway so you can help them and bond over the task, and because toddlers see these daily tasks as important work, so they take them seriously.

What kinds of household tasks? Making themselves a snack, such as peeling fruit or an egg, or slicing soft cheese and making sandwiches with crackers. Helping wash pots and pans or other unbreakable dishes. Pairing the socks as you fold clothes. Picking out fruit at the grocery store. Washing the table or floor. These activities are ultimately more educational and satisfying than TV, and lots of kids love them. The end result? After completing such a task, the toddler says "I did it!" and feels like a more capable, powerful person.