She Says… “I Do It On Myself”

I was talking with a friend over the weekend who was lamenting how her 2 year old wants to do everything herself, making it nearly impossible to get out the door in the morning. “She wants to pick out her own clothes and put on her own socks and throws a fit if I dare try to help her”, she said. Of course she wants her to learn these important self-care skills, but it’s frustrating watching her drop her sock a million times before getting one toe in, only to take it off again because her other toes got stuck.

I can imagine.

Except, I can’t.

I’m not sure if this is a gender divide or not, but Owen has shown little to no interest in his own clothing. Choosing it OR putting it on. Since his teachers at school marked “putting on and taking off clothes” as one of his areas where his skills were “still developing” a few months ago, I’ve been working to let him struggle with taking off his tops and bottoms before his bath and helping him figure out how to tuck his thumbs in his waistband to pull his shorts off over his diaper. But to be honest I’ve never really focused on making him (letting him?) put on his own socks. And I still haven’t shown him how to take off his own diaper. I’m shocked he hasn’t tried it on his own, but I’m going to ride this “Only Mommy can do it” train as long as I can, for the sake of my floors and sheets! I will often ask “Do you want to wear the orange striped shirt or the green one?” so he can pick something, and he always has an opinion, but him doing these things “by himself” has not yet become a challenge for us.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I hear those powerful two year old words (“I do it on myself, Mommy! No helpin’ me!”) A LOT. But for us, they nearly always relate to death-defying stunts like tight-rope walking across a teeny tiny ledge or jumping from a dangerously high height.

Yep, I get it. Just not in the same way.

Exhibit A. Owen watched a 4 year old on the playground run on this hamster-wheel type thing while holding on to the handles. I tried to help him do it (ahem, safely) and he pushed my hands away, insisting, “I do it on myself! No helpin’, Mommy”.


Exhibit B. Balancing. “Do you want a hand, buddy? I’m just going to spot you.” “No helpin’! I do it on myself!”.


Exhibit C. More balancing. This one was at least wider so I wasn’t so scared of him falling off, but it was high off the ground and he was DANCING across it instead of just walking. Crazy kid.



And Exhibit D. Jumping. Oh, jumping will be the thing that gives me gray hairs. And lots of ’em. This kid has no fear (which I’ve known since he learned how to walk) and gets immense joy from being airborne. “Look Mommy! I do it all on myself!”. “Great, buddy. Let me get 911 on speed dial.”.





So we may be a little behind in the “putting on your own socks” department. But I guarantee my kid could scale a rock wall without my help. So that’s something.



5 responses to “She Says… “I Do It On Myself”

  1. Oh sweet jesus I think Owen is starting to give ME grey hairs! lol Cameron also doesn’t really care what he wears either – I sometimes give him a choice. I figure the longer I can just pick it out and save time, the better! He will often take a firm stand on which hat he wears though! lol He will put his shoes on himself and I know he does this a lot at day care because his crocs are often on the wrong feet when I pick him up in the play ground at the end of the day! lol But there’s not too much putting socks/pant/shirt on himself going on – but I feel like I don’t give him much opportunity since time in the morning is limited. And likewise in the evenings, I don’t think he would ever undress himself for bath if it were left up to him! He’s on a “No thank you Mommy” kick when it’s bath time. I do think I need to make more of a mindful effort to try to get him doing this stuff on his own on the weekends for sure. It was never something I worried much about – I think he is more proactive at day care since there are more kids getting dressed and they all participate.

  2. I have no interest in teaching the kid to dress herself. That sounds like a recipe for making my life harder. I’m glad Faith’s “school” doesn’t give me homework like “teach her to put on her own socks”. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  3. Ha ha how funny. I bet he would love a gymnastics class!

  4. My 2 older kids (the youngest is still a babe so I have a few months left of picking out all her outfits!) are less than interested in dressing themselves (they have clear opinions on what they want to wear, they just want me to put it on them). They are 5 and 3, so it gets frustrating to ask them again and again to take off/put on clothes and have them say they can’t (they are able, but not very willing). They both went through phases of insisting on doing it themselves, but those passed and now they are always asking for help (usually I can get them to do most of it themselves and only help if they are legitimately stuck, like with a button or zipper that’s hard to do or an inside out shirt. Also, my 5-year-old has a broken arm so he currently needs extra help). It is a battle almost every day. I can only assume they’ll grow out of it eventually. For now, it saves time since I can do it more quickly than they can!

    Owen is so cute jumping off those bleachers. I agree, gymnastics might be a good choice for him!

  5. Elle started scaling new, big-kid playground equipment this weekend, which completely scares me to death – I’m not sure what I would do if she had Owen’s fearlessness! I love how to tackles each new challenge with such excitement and confidence, though. Regarding the gender divide, Elle has very little interest in dressing herself or picking her own clothes beyond mentioning wanting to be a ballerina (i.e. wear a skirt or ruffles) on any particular day or choosing a pajama set. I’m sure those are just more things we have to look forward to 🙂

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