While our children depend on us so much for everything the first year and a half of their lives, it’s difficult for us as parents to begin to let go. Not only do we find it difficult to let go of their hand, but also being able to control what happens to them. For the first year and a half we heard crying and whimpering, and we catered to that, knowing that was our baby’s means of telling us he needed something. Now, at around 18 months and for the next year and a half, we begin to hear not crying but the words “Mine” or “Me do it”. Our little toddler is actually on his way to becoming his own person, and he knows this.
Often, this can be a hard time for parents. Nonetheless, that reach for autonomy is an important step in becoming a confident toddler and even a confident adult. It is at this stage of development that it’s imperative that our child experience the three “F’s”- falling, failing, and frustration. It’s okay that they fall when learning to walk. As hard as it is to watch, we have to let them try over and over when they fail to stack blocks more than two high. Also important, and more challenging for us as parents, is to allow our child to feel an element of frustration. But if we allow them to figure out their own way by persevering, trying and trying again, we are helping them with brain development, emotion control, and most importantly, becoming a confident human being, able to believe in themselves and make appropriate decisions in the future.
So by balancing your feelings of control and hand-holding, providing a home that is safe of small objects and sharp coffee table corners, you are offering your child freedom, the chance to explore her environment, and helping her develop her sense of autonomy. After she’s turned the chunky farm animal puzzle piece twelve different times, keep your hands off! Let her rise up in times of failure and find the right fit on her own, allow her to learn not to doubt herself. You’ll be glad you did, and so will she.