A little help, please

I’m struggling with a parenting issue.

It is that “I need a little help, please” request that comes from Sebastian all the time these days.

He wants me to help him with tasks that he already knows how to do independently.  And by “help,” I mean he wants me to do it for him.

He asks for help to put on his shoes or take them off.
To get dressed in the morning.
To sit on the toilet.
To wash his hands.
To go up or down stairs.
And so on and so forth.

I know three things:

First, he is doing this to get attention from me because Theo is a lot more mobile and communicative and is therefore even more of a mama-attention-grabber than he used to be.

Second, once I start helping with these tasks, he wants me to do them every time, and I already have my hands full without doing every little thing for both of them again.

Third, he will be big and refusing my help in the time it takes me to blink thrice.

So… what say you? The way I see it, I can A)  help him whenever he asks for it, B) “help” him by just doing an itty bit of the task and letting him do the lion’s share on his own, or C) refuse to help since he can already do it himself.

Mostly I’ve gone with option B, but he’s a pretty smart cookie, and he doesn’t fall for that often.  Cue tantrum and tears and unhappy Team Rasler.  If I just refuse a few times in a row, and survive the tempest, he goes back to doing it himself and is fine for a few days or even longer, but eventually reverts again.

I am big on positive reinforcement, so we do a lot of praising and encouragement and the occasional stickers for doing things on his own, but maybe there is a better way and you have some words of wisdom for me.

Any advice?  An option D I haven’t considered?

I, too, need a little help, please.

5 Responses to A little help, please
  1. JDaniel4's Mom
    October 10, 2011 | 5:14 am

    We just put up a chore chart of things he need to do like dress, put clothes in hamper, help with dishes, and sweep. He still needs help, but he loves his chart.

  2. Missy | Literal Mom
    October 10, 2011 | 6:35 am

    Chore chart is good for this age. I still say option B that you do is best. My 4 year old does this same thing, and I will often say, “Ok, I’ll get you started, then you get to do the rest,” or something like that. If I refuse her outright, then we have a battle of wills where she tries as hard as she can to convince me she actually can’t do what she’s asking to do, then everyone’s unhappy.

    Or I’ll say, “there’s only one of Mommy and two of you. I can help get you started in a minute, so if you don’t want to wait you can get started yourself.” Then often she’ll do it while she’s waiting.

    I think the 2nd challenge here is that he’s going from little kid to big kid. Most of the time that’s fun, but sometimes it’s scary and the desire to regress rears its head. He’ll get past it.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  3. Gramma
    October 10, 2011 | 7:42 am

    Your “count to 10” post that talks about solving the problem. Would that help here? I do like the other suggestions, too. Not sure if implementing everything at once would be overwhelming, but might be worth a try. Another thought is to ask him to do whatever task it is in order to teach Theo. Positions of responsibility and authority are sometimes appealing.

    I apologize for not having more strategies, but I never encountered this problem with my three perfect children 🙂 On the other hand, my memories are blurry about the shenanigans of the three little posers who sometimes showed up!

  4. Aunt Lori
    October 10, 2011 | 4:47 pm

    I vote for that strategy of having him “help” teach Theo—kills two birds with one stone!! It also reminds me of the “Toilet Training in One Day” book, where the trainee teaches a doll about toileting. It worked 30 years ago…. 🙂

  5. Megan
    October 18, 2011 | 5:49 am

    This is a hard phase! We emphasized the “big kid” aspect of it. And like your Aunt Lori suggested- having our eldest ‘teach’ the little one. This too will eventually backfire because our eldest is now quite bossy in that she knows ‘everything’. But for a long while, that did work. “Nice work in there big Sister!” that sort of thing. That way you are acknowledging him but also putting it on him to do the big kid thing. Good grief! These little phases can be so hard! Good luck!

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