When should I expect my LO to start doing things more independently? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-18-2012, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am finding myself increasingly frustrated at my 5 year old who is still asking for help constantly throughout the day for what I think should be simple tasks for a kid her age. Help with wiping in the bathroom, buttoning pants, putting shoes on the right feet, buckling and unbuckling in the car, opening and closing the car door, using utensils, getting a simple snack, etc. etc. I could go on and on.

It's not for lack of instruction or practice and there are no reasons to believe she has any physical or emotional issues for it. She checks out fine with her doctor. A lot of times she just seems .... okay for lack of a better word ... lazy. I can't believe I just wrote that and I would never say it to her but it's how I feel. She just gives up so easy whenever she thinks something might be the slightest bit hard for her.

I am trying so hard to be patient and not to make her feel bad but at the same time I am getting resentful that so much of my time is taken up helping her with things she should have mastered in toddlerhood. I feel like I'm repeating the same things I did three years ago with no results. It's just so frustrating.

Am I asking too much of her? Sometimes I think I am but then I see kids half her age doing these things by themselves already and I know I shouldn't compare but I can't help it. It seems odd to me that a child who can read can't open a buckle or peel a banana. I'm a sahm and she's my only. I'm with her all the time so I doubt it's an attention getting tactic.

Any advice? When did/do you expect your kids to be able to do these things mostly independently?


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#2 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 11:09 AM
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We have a bit of that going on over here too.  Sometimes it is as simple as pointing out to her that she can do it herself, and letting her try.  Other things are taking more prodding.

 

Friends and I had a discussion about independent wiping not too long ago.  Turns out 5 year olds are really bad at wiping themselves. LOL There were only a couple folks who said their 4-5 year old could wipe themselves and not end up missing something, that the parents found on their underwear later. LOL  Most everyone said they ended up with dirty underwear later in the day, or they wiped for their kid.  I remember when I was about 5 getting several bladder infections in a row due to poor wiping. In this area I think a lot of folks expect independence, but the reality is, kids aren't quite there yet, and in the case of my daughter, know that parents do it better and they feel clean.

 

Other things I have noticed are things that I have insisted on doing in the past, and she just assumes that I still need to do it. So there is a letting her figure it out - and not getting twitchy if she spills milk.  Also, making sure things are possible for her to do.  I encourage DD a lot to try stuff before asking for help, and assure her that I will be there to help her if she needs it.  I remember going through this when she was learning to dress herself.

 

And sometimes, they just want us to do things for them because they know they are growing up and miss constant help, I think. :) 


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#3 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 01:31 PM
 
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What I found to help was having something *I* was doing at the same time.  So, instead of just standing and waiting for them to unbuckle and climb out of the car be busy with *anything* (picking lint off the seat, cleaning your purse, whatever).  "You go get dressed while I put the breakfast dishes away and then we'll ______" works alot better than standing there watching while you both get frustrated!

 

 


 

 

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#4 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies. I'm almost glad to hear that so many other kids have an issue wiping. Although it is a bit perplexing being most kids this age are in full day school and will have to use the bathroom at some point when they're there. I guess there are just a lot of messy pairs of underwear for a while until they figure it out on their own ... 

 

Tired - That is a great idea. Unfortunately that's not working for us. My frustration is coming from not being able to do that. I feel like I should be able to walk away and take care of something else while she does these things and it makes it hard for me to step away because she still wants help. Like I'll say to put her shoes on so we can leave and then go to fill our water bottles. It's a rare day I can do that and end up with feet in the shoes and on the right feet a minute later. Or I'll be trying to carry groceries out of the car and have to put everything down because she won't try hard enough to open the door and get out on her own. 

 

It's mostly just little things but they add up to a lot throughout the day. I try to remember that one day she'll be big and won't need me anymore and it makes me sad but it's tough to remember when it's only 7am and she's said "mommy help me" for the tenth time already. 


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#5 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 02:38 PM
 
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On things that my 3 year old says he can't do but I KNOW he can (opening the door eyesroll.gif) I tell him "Let me see you try ONE time, and then I will help." He usually tries to get it wrong on purpose, but since he is capable of doing it, will end up doing it by accident. Then he laughs and goes about his business... I say this ALL DAY LONG and most times I end up doing whatever he needed me to do, but for those few times he does do it, it gives me hope orngbiggrin.gif

 

And also, maybe she just wants to be babied? Try a day or two of doing it for her all mushy lovey dovey? I know my ds gets a kick out of that! 


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#6 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 08:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CherryBombMama View Post

 

And also, maybe she just wants to be babied? Try a day or two of doing it for her all mushy lovey dovey? I know my ds gets a kick out of that! 

 

That's a great idea!  I remember when my DD was younger if I did some (what I considered) over the top "babying" (when it was convenient for me) she seemed to get filled up on it and be more independent other times.  Things like feeding her with an airplane spoon, lol, she would get a kick out of.  Definately a lot of attention helped!


 

 

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#7 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 08:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post
Tired - That is a great idea. Unfortunately that's not working for us. My frustration is coming from not being able to do that. I feel like I should be able to walk away and take care of something else while she does these things and it makes it hard for me to step away because she still wants help. Like I'll say to put her shoes on so we can leave and then go to fill our water bottles. It's a rare day I can do that and end up with feet in the shoes and on the right feet a minute later. Or I'll be trying to carry groceries out of the car and have to put everything down because she won't try hard enough to open the door and get out on her own. 

 

 

Let her get frustrated. Let her wear her shoes on the wrong feet. Stop rescuing her all the time from the bit of discomfort that comes from doing something we have to work at.

 

I think part of the problem is that you are wanting her to be happy about all this, you are waiting for her permission.

 

 

 


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#8 of 14 Old 04-19-2012, 10:29 PM
 
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is she in K? or has she started K?

 

hang in there. this is a v. v. typical phase you will see her go in and out over a period of time. 

 

has her imagination exploded? is she suddenly very moody?

 

any changes - big ones?

 

this is an age when i see this very common amongst children. and my theory is they are looking for reassurances. they are on the threshhold of realising they are older and it scares them to pieces. between 4 and 7 i have seen my dd become more babyish when she is going through esp. emotional growth spurts when she realises life really does not revolve around her and she wants to know if mama is going to be there for her. 

 

5 was a time when dd became afraid of things she wasnt afraid of before.

 

and the funny part is once they come out of that phase in a very subtle way you will find they have become very mature. 


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#9 of 14 Old 04-20-2012, 08:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

Help with wiping in the bathroom, buttoning pants, putting shoes on the right feet, buckling and unbuckling in the car, opening and closing the car door, using utensils, getting a simple snack, etc. etc. ....

 

It's not for lack of instruction or practice and there are no reasons to believe she has any physical or emotional issues for it. 

 

Just checking to make sure that you've tried breaking an activity down into smaller tasks and you are only asking her to do one task at a time. Some kids get overwhelmed when they hear a list all at once. "Brush your teeth, get dressed and get your coat and shoes on, we're leaving soon" is just too much for them, but they can handle a single request at a time. 

 

Mark her shoes with "L" and "R" or put different colour laces on them. Maybe even hand her one to start, tell her it's for the right foot, and then walk away.

 

Give her the job of peeling bananas when you make muffins or oranges when you are making lunch. If it's attention-seeking behaviour, she already has your attention when you are working together. If she doesn't want to help, then she can find something else to do WITHOUT you. Then put snacks like bananas and oranges in a place she can reach and if she wants one, she can help herself. If she doesn't want one enough to get it herself, she'll be fine. Or only provide grapes and apples for a while - no peeling involved! 

 

I suspect you've already tried this sort of thing, but just in case, I thought I'd mention a few tactics that might help.

 

 

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#10 of 14 Old 04-20-2012, 12:04 PM
 
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My DD is 4.5 and she does some of the things you listed, but will still ask for help occasionally. Some of the things are still beyond her though. I'll go through your examples to give you an idea of how I handle things -- they may or may not work for you, or maybe they'll give you an idea.

 

Help with wiping in the bathroom - this is actually something I WISH she would still ask for help with. She actually gets an occasional rash because she doesn't wipe deep enough. Getting her to do it herself, was a matter of "lessons" (this is how mama wipes, this is the way you wipe, pee means you wipe extra careful here, poop means you wipe extra here) and telling her that she was a super big girl for doing it on her own. Being a "big girl" has been a good stimulator. She has made it apparent that it's important to be big, and do big girl stuff, so I kinda ran with it. When I notice that she is having issues again then I re-teach the lessons at times when she's NOT on the potty.

 

Buttoning pants - This one she still has issues with. She can usually get the zipper, but cannot manage the button. I usually praise her for asking for help. I go back to the "big girl" thing and say that one of the most important parts of being a big girl is knowing when to ask for help. Then I show her how to do it, and ask her to try. She still can't do it, but is getting closer. There are lots of times now where she tries BEFORE she asks for help. Honestly, on days when I am busy and I want her to get dressed herself, then I will pick out pull on pants.

 

Putting shoes on the right feet - She's getting so much better at this. Usually if she gets it wrong, then it's because she was zoned off in space and not watching which foot went into which shoe. She knows the "rules" for her shoes - she has velcro shoes that have triangles at the ends of the velcro, so we tell her that the "arrows point away from each other." I leave her shoes out with her other clothes to put on for the day. She gets excited about finishing a task, so usually when she's dressed she runs to tell me "I'm ALLL Dressed Mama!" At this point I'll look her over, and make sure I check her shoes. I'll ask her if she put her shoes on the right feet, sometimes even if she has, so she looks down and says either "yes! I did it!" or "oooops!" And, if she didn't get it then she'll plop down on the floor or run to the couch to switch them.

 

Buckling and unbuckling in the car - She's really good at buckling now, but because she's in a pretty complicated harness seat (Graco Nautilus) she can't manage the unbuckling part. As far as getting her to buckle, she did alright but was still asking for (what I considered un-needed) help until we made it a "race." Now, every time we get in the car she wants to be the winner, so she buckles up super fast trying to beat the other passengers.

 

Opening and closing the car door - Honestly, I don't have her open the doors of the car yet. Part of this is lack of coordination, and part of it is because of how the driveway is at my place. It's a very sloped driveway (to the side), and I hit myself with the door all the time trying to get in or out of the car. Plus, since she can't unbuckle herself (see above) I still have to come around to the back to get her out.

 

Using utensils - Starting around age 2 or 2 1/2 I would give her utensils and tell her that we used a fork to eat this, or a spoon to eat that. At that age, I usually just let her "try" and then wouldn't push it if she finished her meal with her hands. There were times I did make a battle out of it, but usually that was because of what I had served. Like I wouldn't tolerate her lapping up soup with her tongue -- she had to use her spoon. She confessed at one point that she was afraid of making messes, so I told her that I would rather she made a mess learning to eat with her utensils, rather than make a mess on herself eating with her hands. After a long while I finally made it a rule that she had to use her utensils at restaurants. After that it was smooth sailing. Then, she insisted that she be allowed to learn how to use chopsticks, so I got her some "kid chopsticks" for use at home, and she practices using the disposable chopsticks at chinese restaurants.

 

Getting a simple snack - The kitchen actually still has a baby gate on it at my house. I have slanted front drawers which make it impossible to put child safety locks on them. I just do not feel safe allowing her to be in the kitchen when things like the knife drawer cannot be secured. So, occasionally I will put out a snack on the table that she can graze on, or she asks for a snack and I get her one. She is allowed to get her own water from the bathroom sink though, and will do that on her own. I gave her cups one day to play with in the sink while I was doing my hair and she "snapped" that she could drink the water she got. So, now she'll come ask me for juice or milk and I'll tell her that she can go get her own water if she wants to, and usually she does.


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#11 of 14 Old 04-20-2012, 06:00 PM
 
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I think I'm really out there with this sort of thing.  I hardly push my kids to do tasks, or even encourage them.  It seems like my older one is quite happy to be taken care of well beyond the age that he should need to be (I think he was 7 the last time I wiped his bottom!), and my younger one is a little precocious about this sort of thing.  My 3 1/2 year old is sitting on the couch next to me eating humus and tortilla chips that he got out of the fridge for himself and brought in here.  My older one  --  8 1/2 years  --  is dipping some bread in the humus that I got for him.  I do worry a little that his future partner will be irritated at me.  lol  At any rate, though, I think that kids are all over the map about this stuff.  

 

One thing I noticed on your list was using utensils  --  they are always available to my kids, but I've always felt like it was easier for them to use their fingers.  I feel like there may be some school of thought out there that it's important for them to use them, but Milo is as adept with them now as all the other kids his age even though he didn't really use them until he decided to.


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#12 of 14 Old 04-27-2012, 11:26 AM
 
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I have a 5 y.o. DD, too and you pretty much described her. My DD does have some minor fine motor issues, though. But still, I agree with a pp and do a lot of "let me see you try first". And with the shoe thing I let her put them on (right or wrong) and ask her if they feel comfortable. She can almost always tell after she has them on whether they are on the right feet. But mostly I just try to be patient with it all. (Emphasis on "try", lol.)

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#13 of 14 Old 04-28-2012, 05:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

 

Let her get frustrated. Let her wear her shoes on the wrong feet. Stop rescuing her all the time from the bit of discomfort that comes from doing something we have to work at.

 

I think part of the problem is that you are wanting her to be happy about all this, you are waiting for her permission.

 

 

 

 

Umm ... I assume you were trying to be helpful but I don't understand this post at all. I'm not rescuing her or asking for her permission (whatever that even means) and I would in general like her to be happy as I think everyone wants their kids to be. 

I can't just leave her in the car if she won't/can't unbuckle herself or bring her out in the heat or cold with no shoes on. Well I guess I could but I think that's abusive and I think most other people would agree so one of us has to get her out of the car, put her shoes on, prep her food, etc. I'm just frustrated a little that it still has to be me most of the time. 

 

Thanks for all the other ideas. I'm trying my best to just be patient. I know this too shall pass. Some days I do a better job than others. I've tried pretty much everything. Only asking her to do one thing at a time and making it really clear what that thing is, reassuring her it's okay to make a mistake when she tries on her own. I will give her a quick verbal praise for doing something I know she finds tough but I don't want to reward or penalize for everyday tasks. 

 

 


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#14 of 14 Old 04-28-2012, 06:11 AM
 
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Since most of the things you described involves fine motor strength--- I just wanted to make sure you don't think there could be an issue with her hand/finger strength being a bit low.  Or are you fairly sure it's behavioral. 

 

If you ask her to squeeze your fingers, what does it feel like?  How is her letter formation/handwriting? 

 

I'm a K teacher, and when it's a behavioral issue, it resolves pretty quickly with teacher intervention because they seem to take us more seriously than mom (which is funny, my own son does the same thing, so it's not like I just have some magic K teacher aura).  Even when it is a bit of a fine motor issue, there's usually still a learned behavior attached to it (knowing it's going to be hard, so giving up quickly) and I can usually address both at once (working on finger strength but also expressing confidence that it can be done and waiting as long as it takes with prompts and a little help.)

 

Yes, it's common at this age... and if it's behavior then it can be a pretty easy fix in the adult's behavior.  If it's fine motor it takes a little longer, but lots of work with beads, clay, play-doh, squeezy balls, etc. can help. 

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