My two-year old daughter has definitely hit the 2's: Temper tantrums, HIGHLY active and loves saying 'No!' and 'Miiiiine!'
And then today as we were playing, she said, "mommy, help!" and handed me her crayons to color, I realized she has also hit the age where I need to start increasing her self-esteem.
From birth, my child was needing me to do everything for her. But now I can see she is at an age where she can start doing things on her own. I know she can hold her own crayons and color, so when she asks me to help her, I realize she is capable of doing it by herself.
I am so used to jumping in to do things for her, because let's face it, as adults we are quicker at getting our kids dressed, fed, and any other tasks. But I need to start letting her do these things as slow as she might be, because she needs to learn to do them and say more often, "all by myself mommy!"
When working with children in play therapy, I always follow the child's lead. If they want me to dress up as Batman during play, I put on the cape. If they want to use the doctor kit on me, then I brace myself for my eyes to be examined and heart listened to by the stethoscope. By them leading the play, it empowers them.
BUT, when they ask me to do something for them and use the words ' I can't', I turn it around and say something like: "I hear you saying you don't think you can do something, but I would like to see you try, and then if you still need some help, you can let me know what we need to do together to get it done." Or something like that, depending on the child's age.
Outside of the play therapy room, I always ask my clients (and now my own child) to 'show me' and have them do something they need help with. So today I turned to my little girl and said, "I want to see you try" and pointed to her crayons. And she did it! When she hands me the bib, I turn to her and tell her, "let me see you try to put it on." And amazingly she does it! Wow, I wish I had started this yesterday.
The best way to start increasing self-esteem is to give small tasks that your child can accomplish, and then reward them with words of praise, "yay, you did it all by yourself!!" A great example is to ask your 2 year old to hand you their dish, or to throw away their own trash. And picking up toys at the end of the day is another good task. They may not be able to pick them all up, but give them one specific toy to put away, and when they do, reward them.
As they get older, you can give them bigger tasks such as emptying the lower rack of the dish washer. Or folding a few clothes items, or feeding the dogs.
Empowering them is the best way to increase their self esteem and show them that even though we still see them as our little babes, they are growing up and we need to let them do these small tasks on their own. As I've said on my blog countless times before, I want my child to learn to be independent, and able to take care of herself when I am not there at her side as she gets older. Self esteem is huge and something that as parents, we can help foster and grow :)