Coddling a toddler (This IS a debate)

April - posted on 02/10/2011 ( 43 moms have responded )

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I am wondering what your thoughts are on coddling a toddler. What does coddling mean to you and where do you draw the line or maybe you don't believe a toddler can be coddled?

The reason why I have been thinking about this is because my son currently takes a gymnastics class. He's been attending since November (he's 25 months old now) and he is the only one in his class that WILL NOT tumble (forward roll) by himself. I help him every single time and I am just starting to notice that other mothers are not helping their kids as much as I help my son.

Then, I started realizing that gymnastics class isn't the only place that I help him. At home, I sometimes spoon feed him (he is perfectly capable) and I now realize that I don't go out of my way to make sure he walks somewhere (ex: getting him out of his car seat and letting him walk to the front door and into the house by himself)

I guess I am starting to wonder if I coddle him too much. I guess I define coddling as doing simple things you know your child CAN do. He CAN make the decision to eat. He won't starve himself. He CAN walk from the car to the front door. Maybe he can't do a forward roll, but that doesn't come easy for every child (although I DO believe he isn't trying I DO think he is being stubborn). I told him maybe we should quit if he doesn't enjoy it, but he says he loves it)

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Krissy - posted on 02/11/2011

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well, my kids have always been in the 90% for both height and weight, so they are responsible sooner than most for most of their walking anyway... she's been pretty independent, except when she's fallen asleep in the car, we've been out late... etc.. then we've carried her.

As for the ice... I'd rather not slip and fall and drop my kid from 5-6 feet high, LOL! So I usually prefer to hold their hands... unless they are pretty young..

Danielle - posted on 02/11/2011

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My kids are like night and day with this. My son who is 7 lived with my parents for his first few yrs b/c of me going through a severe post pardom depression. They coddled him so much and I hated it! He was still walking around with a bottle in his mouth when he was three. He would come to our house on wkends and I would have him on a sippy cup when he went back and the next wkend it would be the same thing all over again. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for my parents being there for him and I at that hard time but I don't understand how their values on raising children could have changed from when my brother and I were little to how they dealt with my son. When my daughter was born three yrs later he moved back in with us and it was a nightmare. They had done absolutely EVERYTHING for him. It has made it very hard on us b/c I want him to be independent for his own good. It's made him not want to learn anything. Why learn when you have someone that could do it for you? He doesn't know how to tie his shoes. He won't learn how to ride a bike and don't get me started about school work. I tried for two mnths straight to teach him how to tie his shoes and he refuses to do it. He has sat there and cried for 15 minutes straight b/c of it. All the while not even trying. It upsets me not b/c it's hard on my husband and I but b/c it's hurting him. My daughter was never coddled. She's four and I have a problem keeping up with everything she wants to learn lol. Her favorite phrase is " I DO IT!!!!" My son has come a long way since moving back in with us and I work with him on being independent every day but we still have a long road ahead of us.

[deleted account]

"About the tumbling...at our very first class...I kind of helped but kind of let him do it himself. Well, he kicked his legs over too fast and it scared him. He has refused to tumble ever since. That was November...it's almost March. I REALLY feel like he was scared at first but now he's just milking it. He wants things the easy way. I think he actually LIKES when I spoon feed him too. I usually just spoon feed him in the morning and let him do it for all the other meals. Yet...I'm noticing that he doesn't eat in the morning unless I spoon feed. I am starting to worry that maybe he is getting lazy with things."

I think you said it right there hun, you gotta follow his cues and yours and find balance. So yes it has reached the point of coddling too much now its time to crack down and push a little. I know when my son is milking a fall or playing up the baby role and when he honestly is looking for comfort or help...obviously so do you hun so seriously time to teach some independance to both of you :) baby steps at least encourage him to do it on his own before you step in, give him praise and encouragement and allow yourself to take a step back. Add more resistance since he will probably be a little stubborn about it say "You're a big boy try taking a bite" and if he pushes push back with "No no Mr. you don't need me to feed you you're getting so big now, watch mommy take a bite now you try" and if even still he wont do it try bargaining "Okay well how about we take turns you take a bite and then I'll feed you the next one"...you get the idea. Baby steps until he adjusts. The only time we do the tough refusing to help thing is when he is beginning to regress and then if he doesn't want to feed himself his snack then he can obviously wait till lunch things like that. When my son fully regresses though we have to start from square one so you can see why we need to take a firmer approach to prevent that when we can. Since we have a baby on the way Aiden has started playing 'baby' so to help him we take that moment to baby him up by snuggling him like a newborn, wrapping him up in a blanket and rocking him and making a big show of him being a baby then because after a while it irritates him and he wants down I say "Oh look my big boy Aiden is back" and follow the experience by a big boy activity that he finds fun and make a big show about what a big boy he is. This may seem odd but its really important to me that we don't make being a baby a bad thing nor do we just shove him into the big boy role I'm hoping he will just naturally prefer his new role but still be able to comprehend the baby's. It seems to be going well so far :)

I think for right now take it slow and steady but definately start weaning his dependancy.

Casey - posted on 02/10/2011

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I don't want to sound rude but I do think you are coddling him a bit to much you need to give your kids room to grow and you can't do everything for them they need to learn independence cause your not always going to be there for them, if I were I would take a little step back and let him do things for himself don't automatically pick him and carry him instead make him walk and hold your hand and stop trying to feed him he needs to learn how to do it himself and the same at gymnastics let him have a go at doing a tumble by himself but it's important to assure him that if he needs help then your right there.
I have a friend who has a 3 year old and she has always coddled him but now she has a new baby and shes struggling cause her son has been her baby for to long and doesn't like to do anything for himself so you have to teach them some kind of independence otherwise your not only going to make life hard for them but you'll also make it harder on yourself in the long run.

Ez - posted on 02/10/2011

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My daughter's favourite phrase is 'I'll do it MYSELF', so even if I tried coddling her she wouldn't have it. I'm sensing a theme here lol. Little boys seem more inclined to rely on Mummy for things they can do themselves (does this ever change? :-p).

Just start out with one small task and explain that he needs to learn to do it himself because he's such a big boy. Once he conquers that, move on to the next thing. Good luck!

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[deleted account]

Bibs.... what are they? I have not used one with any of my kids. Because they get frustrated with them and pull at them.

Katherine - posted on 02/11/2011

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I WANT to coddle my daughter but she's just too Miss Independent for that. If I try to carry her, she wiggles out of my grasp, if I try to help her eat, she says, "I do."

Even in the tub she wants to wash herself and she wipes after going to the bathroom.

Both of my girls have been that way, but they are also very affectionate, which I love. So I guess it balances out.



Edit to add: She is 23 months

Stifler's - posted on 02/11/2011

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my kid eats with just a nappy on. i'm not washing stuff since he's decided that bibs are evil and he's going to pull them off. he used to not care about bibs.

Merry - posted on 02/11/2011

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No Eric never used bibs!
I had one, but I hated washing it off after a meal so I ditched it quickly!
When he feeds himself he is meticulous about staying clean, he has to have a rag near by to wipe his hands and mouth after ever bite. He used a fork well by one year old, and ate his birthday cake with a fork and a napkin! He has gotten into a bad habit of wiping his mouth on his sleeve, but as long as I have a rag handy he uses that instead.
I think clean eating is a learned trait, not something they just grow into naturally.

April - posted on 02/11/2011

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@ Laura H-- Does Eric wear bibs? Zachary never has...even as a 4 month old, he would rip those bibs off!! I even tried the kind that goes over your head. He found a way to pull those off too. He has a bit of a phobia about it, I guess. He still hasn't learned to be neater when he eats (some people have argued that if you let them wear a bib for too long, they don't learn to be more careful when they eat)

April - posted on 02/11/2011

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Wow...kids are smarter than we give them credit for! Seems like he tries to make you feel guilty for going to workout! Good thing you are able to catch a glimpse of him having fun and know better!

I am kind of surprised how many moms are still sometimes spoon feeding their toddlers...it's nice to know I am not the only one! He is just so picky when it comes to food...it makes me worry less when I know he's eating!

Shauna - posted on 02/11/2011

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I do the same :( ...My son is a total mamas boy and he knows how to get to me. I workout everynight so im gone for a few hrs and my husband watches him ... everynight i walk in i will hear my son laughing his head off doing boyish stuff with my husband rough and tumbling on the floor. But the min he sees me he starts BAWLING .. acting like his father was murdering him .. when i just observed him so happy and excited with him. If im in the room he doesnt want anyone but me.
i too tend to do the spoon feeding... and doing things for him that i should let him be doing ..... but hes my baby boy! i just keep thinking to myself... what if something happens and im unable to have another baby and those baby yrs just flew by!!! i cant help it!

[deleted account]

I've seen that too and I think thats a little too far, Aiden is perfectly capable of walking less than a block to his daycare so yes I push him with that (I'm also preggo and like Laura said its just too much to carry him everywhere when you're in that state) but to the mall? To his auntie's house? No thats too far for his little legs its just common sense. Take however long of a walk it is for you and double that and if it seems unreasonable it isn't coddling to provide a realistic means of transportation. Going to the daycare for me takes 5-10 minutes so Aiden its more like 10-20 which is reasonable. If it takes me a half hour then its gonna take him and hour and that is just too long for a 3 year old to be hoofing it.

April - posted on 02/11/2011

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There's this mom at the gymnastics center that we go to that forces her toddler (he appears to be just under 2) to walk everywhere. Even if it is icy and kind of dangerous...she INSISTS that once he comes out of the car seat he MUST walk. Seeing how pushy she is made me wonder what's too extreme? This child literally walks everywhere...no strollers, baby carriers. I've also seen kids even younger that will walk the length of the mall because their parents insist on being "independent"

Merry - posted on 02/11/2011

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Oh and Eric is 22 months, and I know full well that with Fierna on the way Eric will end up doing alot more on his own simply because I'll be busy with her!

That's one of the reasons I want to have a big family, because when you literally cant help every child with every little thing they learn to do things that you might have done for them!

Merry - posted on 02/11/2011

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I think sometimes if it makes your life easier it's ok to do some of thie things for your toddler, like I spoon feed Eric alot, I just like his clothes staying clean, I like the food getting eaten and not spilled so I do it. Sure he could do it, but not as good as I do it.
Sometimes I carry him, if IMO in a hurry I do, but since I'm 6 months preggo I tend to make hum walk alot since it hurts to carry him a lot.
Now my definition of coddling is something like this- comforting your child when their behavior does not deserve it.
Like when a kid hits snot her kid and the mom says to her hitting son, 'oh honey, you shouldn't hit that boy, please be more careful next time sweetie, give me a hug' etc etc etc
I think when kids do wrong things they shouldn't be getting sympathy yo those extremes, they need a nice firm no, and a new direction yo go, like 'no, ee do not hit, now go over there and play with the ball' or something like that.
Some say I coddle Eric because if he falls and isn't actually injured, but still he cries and wants a hug. People say I shouldn't let him con me into sympathizing him when he isn't hurt.
I think that emotions are very important and powerful things and if he falls he could be hurt, or embarrassed, or frustrated, or anything. So if he wants a hug I wouldn't deny it. And I don't make him eat his food in big bites,I cut it up. This one is in the lines of it makes my life easier because if he hasabig piece to bite off of he tends to eat slower, and often spits out pieces he bit that are too big and he can't swallow. So I feel it's wasting time and money so I simply cut it up.

Krissy - posted on 02/11/2011

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Yes, our kid was screaming, but not in pain, just irritated with her siblings and the other kids for bumping her... maybe a tiny bonk, but honestly, being grabbed by a stranger was more traumatic for this one... I've known my friend now for about 2 years, and her daughter is NOT a stranger friendly kid... six of them are hers and mine and I keep school aged kids, too, so we always have extras... we don't jump to everything.

About the spoon feeding an over two year old... yeah, that really would bug me. The tumbling thing, I would just back off. If he doesn't do it for a few classes, then he doesn't do it til he's ready.

But, you do love him, and that's the most important. But a hint about boys... boys will be big time mama's babies big time if you let them. My son is the most sensitive of the three. He would let me baby him... but I'm not doing him favors if I let him grow UP that way. A few moments of extra TLC are great... but regular babying? No, you aren't doing him or his future wife any good. LOL!!!

Sharon - posted on 02/10/2011

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You are coddling him to much and in the wrong ways.

I've always let my kids try and fail. I don't step in to help until they've tried genuinely on their own and not suceeded. And not just once. Like swimming. My younger two had a good time goofing off during their lessons. Their expensive lessons. My time. My gas. I wasn't happy about it. BIG LESSON for them? They failed - literally - the only "class" they've ever failed. I know they didn't fail to learn, they failed to apply themselves in their class. they giggled and goofed off about putting their faces in the water - even though at home they did it just fine.

Now they are begging to take the classes again. And this time I know they'll apply themselves. And they try harder at everything else.

You're not doing him any favors but helping him along with every little thing.

[deleted account]

My boy would probably want me to do all this stuff for him except he follows his older sister to much. Everything she does he wants to. I'm guessing i would still be feeding him, carrying if i didn't have her that he wanted to keep up with.
I get tantrums all the time though because if it's something i know he can do i generally wont do it unless of course he is tired and beyond reason.

April - posted on 02/10/2011

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About the tumbling...at our very first class...I kind of helped but kind of let him do it himself. Well, he kicked his legs over too fast and it scared him. He has refused to tumble ever since. That was November...it's almost March. I REALLY feel like he was scared at first but now he's just milking it. He wants things the easy way. I think he actually LIKES when I spoon feed him too. I usually just spoon feed him in the morning and let him do it for all the other meals. Yet...I'm noticing that he doesn't eat in the morning unless I spoon feed. I am starting to worry that maybe he is getting lazy with things.

[deleted account]

I agree I'd flip out if some stranger touched my kid for the tiniest little whine but on the other side of this I have seen actual lazy parents who sat their chatting it up and ignoring their child screaming bloody murder because they fell from the top of the jungle gym and was bleeding. This kid wasn't even getting up and it just made me lose it I went over cleaned up the blood with a babywipe picked up the kid and put them next to the ladies on the bench I simply asked "Sorry to bother you ladies but which one of you belongs to this?" I was told to Fuck off and then I lost it, informed them not only would they be lucky to see their child hit 5 since they obviously don't care to pay attention but also that I will pray that someone takes that kid from them. I'm sorry but thats pathetic some people really. In general I wont go near other people's kids out of respect and also I believe kids shouldn't think its ok for strangers to approach them...what happened to stranger danger?? but if a child is in pain, danger or left completely alone like wtf I'm sorry but my mommy reflexes cannot handle hearing a child scream in genuine pain without stepping in. Something little like a small trip, fall, etc. then its not my business and giving them time to get themselves back up is completely reasonable.

Ez - posted on 02/10/2011

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haha fair enough. I tend to agree. The lady could have simply come out and told everyone there was a child crying, and then the parents could decide what to do from there.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 02/10/2011

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Ok, Ok....forgot another one...Runs away! Thanks Erin! LOL...

To sum it up, unless my son is bleeding, broke a bone, drowning, runs away or into traffic, or is in a DANGEROUS situation...don't touch my kid!

Ez - posted on 02/10/2011

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What about if they've run off Marina? We had an incident the other day where my friend's 2yo bolted while she was dealing with her older son (4) and I was dealing with Milla (2). He ran off to the other side of the park and was very close to the road, but luckily another mum picked him up when she realised he was by himself. I'm assuming you wouldn't have an issue if someone did that for your child?

Sorry.. off topic I know :)

~♥Little Miss - posted on 02/10/2011

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I am sorry Krissy, did you say a stranger touched your kid????? Sorry, but if my kid is not bleeding, broke a bone, don't touch my fucking kid. Hands OFF!

Krissy - posted on 02/10/2011

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Ok, lol, we were in a situation (my friend and I) where we probably kinda offended some one... not intentionally...



We dragged 7 kids to a fast food play place... oldest being 9... youngest being not quite three...



One of the littlest two started crying and screaming in the tunnels. We don't usually jump and run (unless we know there is a bully in there...)



but I guess a young mom that is a jump and runner felt it was her job to pick up my friends child, after dragging her out of the slide...and carry her to us because she was crying... after my friend already called her down and said "Come see me,"...



Another note, this child is NOT one that appreciates strangers touching her and picking her up...



Now, I don't want to be offensive, but it's just not our style to chase after every little whine, scream, or cry... If you leave them alone, they will either decide it's not worth it, or will come to you...



Also, this isn't us being lazy moms, it's our (humble?) opinion that it's better for the child not to hover. They will be more confident when they are older and more independent adults that solve their own problems (hopefully)



In defense of this other concerned lady, like I said, I mean no offense... but the child in question is really tiny and looks much younger than she is.



((that being said, your son, will always know you love him, and he's still pretty young and you are still a fairly "new" mom and will develop your own style and beliefs as you go on... I'm not trying to say you are wrong... :) ))



long post... sorry... LOL

Bonnie - posted on 02/10/2011

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I try not to, but sometimes it is not easy. They grow up so fast. My boys usually point out to me when they can do something on their own and they really don't want mommy to bud in.

Stifler's - posted on 02/10/2011

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I'm the opposite. I can't wait until my 1 year old can get out of the car and walk to the door without falling over.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 02/10/2011

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Letting him do these simple tasks are going to make him more sure of himself, and more independent. This was a hard thing for me too until I sent him to pre-school. he is 4 1/2 and is now reading short sentences. WOW!

[deleted account]

I agree with your interpretation of the word. I get told I coddle too much but I do feel there is a difference since the things I help him with and problems I jump to solve are things that are too much for him emotionally and physically. I don't push him because I know he will master skills in his own time and forcing him to handle it on his own will lead to him getting overwhelmed and giving up. Now other people say I'm too tough on him because if he flips out over something small that I know he is perfectly capable of problem solving I tell him to figure it out and wait for him to do so. I think the proof is in the pudding if he starts getting lazy and wants me to do everything for him then I know I need to back off and push him a little but if things continue to work the way that they are I don't see how anyone can argue with my coddle/tough love technique. He's independant with excellent problem solving skills for his age with a solid sense of comfort and trust in me to step in when he asks me to. I personally don't see anything wrong with that.

Becky - posted on 02/10/2011

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I think I probably coddle Cole - who will be 3 in 4 days, too. He's learned that if I say no to something and he bursts into tears, often I'll do it. Well, to clarify, it depends on what it is. He doesn't get candy or toys in the store or treats when he hasn't eaten his dinner by crying. But if he says, "feed me" and I say, "Cole, I'm feeding Zach, you can feed yourself," and he starts to cry, I will feed him. Or if he cries when I try to leave his room as nap or night time, I'll stay. Generally, if he can do things for himself, I let him, but when he asks me to do things for him that he can do for himself, I'll often do it, even if it inconveniences me. I'm thinking I should get a little firmer on that, when it's really a problem, especially since we're hoping to have another baby within the next year or so! 3 babies to feed and carry is going to be a bit much!
Cole doesn't dress himself yet - although he's certainly capable of undressing himself! Should he be doing this by now?

Ez - posted on 02/10/2011

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Oh yeah, I just wanted to clarify that I don't think you can 'coddle' a toddler emotionally.

Marylea - posted on 02/10/2011

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Here's a definition of the word coddle:

to pamper or treat with excessive indulgence



I think if you do things for your child to a point where they can't do things on their own then you definitely have coddled them. If your kid wants to do something on their own but you take that opportunity away from them then that too is coddling in my opinion. My in-laws have a son the same age as my daughter (21months) they tend to just do things for him all the time and not give him the chance to do things on his own. But they define coddling in a different way, they feel that if he falls down or gets hurt that he should be told he's fine and they sluff off the incident because if they over indulge him when he's hurt they are "babying" or "coddling" him. I don't agree. I think that if keep your child from growing up is coddling.



Sometimes I will spoon feed my daughter and sometimes I'll carry her instead of letting her walk but when she takes the spoon from me to feed herself I let her and if she wants to walk she can. But when she falls I hug and kiss her and comfort her and I don't feel that she’s coddled. I think that its our job to teach our kids and that there is nothing wrong with helping your kid unless it gets to the point where you’re hindering their personal growth.



Marylea

check out my blog at

www.me-myselfandbaby.blogspot.com

Jackie - posted on 02/10/2011

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I guess I never really thought about it until now.

I always let Allison (2 next week) walk from the car to the door, unless it's raining because she likes to dawdle. And in gymnastics, she like to do most things on her own. I hold one hand if she's about to make a big jump.

I think if she wanted me to help her with those things, I probably would though. She's a little Miss Independent and she really gets lots of joy being able to do things by herself.

Does he WANT you helping with all of this stuff? Have you ever, at least, tried to make him do a tumble on his own? Maybe he just needs a little self confidence. If he discovers that he CAN do those things on his own, maybe he'll want to be a little more independent. In which case you'll start to hear all of the, "No's" and the "Stop-It's" and then you wont have a choice :)

Vashti - posted on 02/10/2011

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I AM GUILTY TOO! I never actually thought this was a problem until I read your post. Well honestly I don't think its a problem,but yes I am guilty of helping my son along the way. I do end up feeding him just because it can take an hour for him to finish up his food. I do help him get dressed as he still has issues with his zippers and buttons. And now I am really worried because he will be 5 in July. Now I am wondering if I am enabling him to be lazy. He does show interest in wanting to do things for himself, its just somethings I end up doing out just because he just takes a while to do those things. I want him to be self sufficient . I guess being a stay at home mom has really done a number on me...lol.

Sarah - posted on 02/10/2011

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I guess now you've realised, you can start making little changes here and there, until he starts to realise that he CAN do things by himself.

Give him lots of praise and "what a big boy you are!" comments.

My youngest is a real little independent thing because she wants to be seen as a "big girl" (she's 2)

It is hard to resist the urge, especially when you think "I could do this SO much faster than she can!!" lol :)

[deleted account]

My kid is pretty naturally independent. I'll try to get her dressed, "No Mama, I got it!" Very cute when her pants on on backwards, shirt inside out and socks with the heel on top...but she did it. Most of the time she wants to walk (I do carry her on occasion...like yesterday it was raining and I was rushing to get inside). She's been feeding herself exclusivley since she was about a year old. Honestly I'm not sure if it's the way she's been raised or her personality or a combo. Most likely a combo.



I don't think it's wrong to do things for our kids. They're our kids afterall. But if it's inhibiting them, it may be time to take a step back...and teeny step mind you. Start with the small things. Let him walk and feed himself. He might protest, but just encourage him along. Or just leave the food there until he decides he can pick up his own fork. It's not the end of the world if he can't do a roll. I don't think my daughter can...never tried...but we don't go to gymnastics. But maybe start him off, and let go at the very end and praise him for doing it alone.

[deleted account]

April, I'm in the same boat as you only my toddler just turned 3. I'm thinking I've coddled him too much for too long and now it's going to be a hassle to undo what I've done. I'll carry him from the car to house, I plop him in a buggy when we go shopping instead of letting him walk and I still spoon feed sometimes. He's capable of doing all these things himself yet I insist that I help him a lot of the time. **sighs* He'll be my only one. I don't want him too grow up so fast yet he is growing up and in order for him to be able to fend for himself I have to let him do for himself.

Krista - posted on 02/10/2011

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It's hard not to, isn't it? I think a lot of times, the coddling is more about us than about them -- we have a hard time getting out of the habit of treating them like dependent babies.

I don't see anything wrong with giving a toddler a hand when they need it, but yeah, if there's something that they're capable of doing themselves, then we really should try to let them do it themselves, otherwise how are they going to get better at it?

It's like the "from house to car" scenario you mentioned. My 17-month old is on a kick where he wants to walk down the stairs and walk to the car, instead of having me carry him. Yes, it does take a little longer, but I always give myself an extra half-hour cushion in the morning anyway for unexpected events. And, it's teaching him to hold Mommy's hand when he walks and is teaching him to better navigate stairs. Plus, he just looks so damn proud and happy and cute walking next to me and grinning.

It's a little bittersweet, but yeah, we don't do them any real favours by continuing to do stuff for them if they're capable of doing it themselves.

[deleted account]

My honest opinion is that it does sound like you are coddling him, but I don't automatically think that is ALWAYS the wrong thing to do.... if that makes any sense.

I do try not to coddle my son, but I fully admit that it happens. He can and does walk up our stairs perfectly fine quite often, but there are also quite a few times that he will lay on the bottom step and yell/whine/call 'up on Mommy' and I'll go down and get him. That's just one small example.

I think it can be hard to know where to draw the line. He should definitely be doing for himself where he can and starting to learn to do for himself where he can't yet, but at the same point..... he's still your baby. The thing is to make sure that while he'll always be YOUR baby.... he isn't always A baby.

I don't know. Am I just rambling?

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