Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Miss Independent... sometimes

"I can do it BY MYSELF!!!!"

How many times have I heard that phrase come out of Annika's mouth (usually with quite the "tone" to it)??  She definitely has an independent streak... now if only it was consistent.

Let me backtrack a little bit to give you some context for this post.  When we were on vacation in Flordia (about a month ago), we didn't bring along Annika's "OK to Wake" alarm clock, so she was getting up (and out of her room) a lot earlier than we would've liked (especially since we were on vacation).  So, after a few days of her getting up and coming into our room and us telling her to go back to her room for a little while longer, she started going to the bathroom and getting herself dressed by herself, instead of bothering us.  She decided to do it on her own - it wasn't something we asked her to do (maybe she got bored waiting for us to get up or maybe she had to pee really badly one morning??).  We always pick out her outfit for the next day before going to bed, so all she had to do was go to the bathroom, take off her jammies and put on the clothes laid out for her - pretty simple.  It was great that she was doing this on her own (especially since it meant a little more sleep for us!), and on her own initiative.  An independent step in the right direction.

When we got home from Florida, I thought it would be great if she could keep getting ready by herself in the morning.  It makes things a lot easier for me with getting Emmett ready, and I figured, if this is something she likes to do and wants to do (and is able to do), that's great!  However, something is different between Florida and home.  She DOES NOT want to get ready by herself anymore.  I'm not sure what exactly is making the difference, but it's a struggle almost every morning.  Some mornings it takes her 30-45 minutes to get ready (and that's just getting dressed, not counting eating breakfast), with all her dawdling and fussing (and sometimes tantruming).  Luckily we only have 2 mornings a week where we actually have to be somewhere at a specific time. 

I thought that maybe we'd have a week or so adjustment period when we got home from vacation and then she'd get used to the new routine, but it's a month later, and it's still quite a challenge.  However, I really don't want to back down on this one and start helping her again.  For one, she is perfectly capable of doing these things on her own (other than the occasional button or zipper) - she's proven that.  I read somewhere that once a child is capable of doing a skill or task, they should be allowed (or perhaps, made) to do it on their own, even though it may take waaaayyyyy longer than if you helped them.  I'm not sure I agree with that in all cases, but I do think an important part of parenting is teaching children to be independent, so there definitely is a time to step back and let them do it their way.  The other reason why I don't want to start helping her again is that getting her ready is one of the most frustrating tasks in my day.  Usually when I try to help her get ready (like on mornings when we're in a rush), she repeatedly tells me (or yells at me), "no mommy, I can do it by myself."  Sometimes she even tells me that she doesn't want me to watch her get ready.  So what am I supposed to be doing???  That's why it's so baffling to me that she doesn't want to get ready on her own -- whenever I'm there, she just pushes me away.  Also, if Emmett is around while she's trying to get ready, he is a major distraction to her and she wants to play with him instead of focusing on the task at hand.

Since Annika is a lover of stickers and charts and stuff like that, I found this behavior chart on this website that I'm hoping will make a difference:


I know it's too small to read properly (go to the website if you want to see the full size version), but it has 4 things on it - dress myself, go to bed nicely, pick up my toys and share my things.  I'm hoping it will provide her with some incentive in the morning, and I think the other 3 things are also good things to focus on at this age (sort of a precursor to having chores).  And I like that it has pictures, as well as words, so she can understand what it means.  I haven't decided yet what the reward will be at the end (or how many spots she'll need to fill to get a reward), but there probably will be some little reward to go with it (any suggestions??).  I'm also thinking about making a chart or poster of Annika's morning routine, with actual photos of her doing the different tasks.  I think she might like that too.  I'm really hoping these things will make a difference and we'll start having happier, more independent mornings again.

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