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DS, almost 3, has started a new phase of declaring "I can't do it!" when I ask him to do something. Often it is something he is well able to do, he simply does not want to do it. In which case I tell him that the phrase he should use is "I don't want to do it." Which if he's honest I am usually okay with

Other times (most often) it's me asking him to do something slightly challenging but that he has done before (or even insisted on doing by himself). The main issue being getting him to take off his pants/underwear to go to the bathroom and pull them back up. He was EC'd so he's pretty much PL'd except for going by himself. He is registered for a preschool that starts in September that requires him to be completely toilet independant. On one hand he's not even 3 but on the other hand I am also tired of spending so much time in the bathroom!

How should I approach this? "Baby" him for awhile or insist that he try?
 

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I usually respond, "Try first and if you need help I will help you." If DS genuinely tries or halfway tries, but I know he is tired, hungry, needy, etc I will help him. If he does it on his own I make it a big deal without using meaningless praise, such as "Wow, you did it all by yourself." instead of "great job!" We all have times when we can do something on our own, but just want some help.

As far as preschool, I think you may find he is more independent there. You could start laying the groundwork though and telling him he has to do it himself at school.
 

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I can't help with PL'ing specifically, because DS doesn't want to PL lol... but what I usually do when DS does the "I can't" thing, is verbally coach &/or gently assist. He is still ultimately doing it but it takes the pressure off a bit. I think sometimes even though they know how to do something, they kind of forget or get overwhelmed with other things (tired/hungry/over-stimulated/whatever) and just need a little help and to build up confidence in their abilities.
 

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With my son, when he says he can't do something, I say let me help you. Then I walk him through each step to do it. "Grab you pants at the waist, here and here. Pull then down...etc". I have to be very specific. I empathize with him to. "It is tricky"
 

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This is so common - and I think part of it, as others have posted, is they are tired etc, and some of it is just wanting (needing?) your attention. About this age my dd did the same thing - she was very verbal and self aware and was able to at the same articulate that she didn't want to grow up - they see themselves as no longer babies and are not quite ready to be the big kids...

I found it to be a balancing act - gently insisting at times, while offering the loving guidance and attention explained by the pp, and sometimes if she asked nicely (and we were in a bit of a rush) I would do it for her...

And like the pp said, she was MUCH more independent at school - to the point when we were going through this and I asked her teachers what they thought of her self-help skills - they were surprised I even asked - and her school was VERY much into insisting on independence (over the top sometimes IMO) SO... I just took it as she wanted mommy love and attention and to stay little just a while longer - She's now 7 and very capable in every respect - but still wants the love and attention with the bedtime routine, which I am happy to give her...
 
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