Thursday, November 17, 2011


We are having a problem of helplessness in our house.  There is a 3 year old who suddenly cannot do things like put on his pants and shoes.  He's pretty sure that he needs help to do these tasks - some of them he has been doing for nearly a year on his own.

It makes me crazy - mostly because it makes us late - daily.  It's a problem that generally occurs after nap, in the time that I was hoping to make it to the library early so we could play for a while before Mr. Crum finishes work.  Tantrums ensue, and mama does not help with every task.

I feel mean because I refuse to help my crying child.  I've seen it before though - so many times.  When I worked at the children's home so many of the kids refused to do work that they could do - because in the past they got the help.. and they learned that if they were helpless, someone else would do the work for them.  Sometimes the "learned helplessness" would show up with chores, other times with school work or therapy.

Now, I recognize that Monkey is only 3 and a half.  However - I do not want him to think that laziness makes it okay to refuse a task.  It makes me later than I want to be a lot of times, it causes fits a lot of times - but he is learning.

In fact, it's been 23 minutes now that he's been getting dressed - he's now got pants on, 1 sock, and 1 shoe.  The rest will happen shortly, or once again we won't have time to play at the library.  That would be a bummer.


  1. I'll bet it's for attention. With a new baby, he might be feeling that he's not getting the attention he wants. Not that this is necessarily true, but he see you helping his little brothers get dressed and he wants his "fair share", you know?

    That being said, I'll bet that after he's missed playtime at the library a few times, he'll decide that he's better off doing the things he cans to go faster. I'm sure you're doing it, but positive reinforcement when he finally *does* do the things he is capable of will really help, too. My little guy has even gone through this phase for no reason and I've noticed when I mention all of the "big boy" things he can do, he's more motivated.

    I sure hop this phase passes quickly for you. It can be excruciatingly frustrating!

  2. Thanks Alicia, He's been through this phase a couple of times. I'm not too stressed about it, I've dealt with it with much older kids than him - THAT is frustrating! I've discovered that if I take everyone else out of the room, he'll do the things he needs (in the summer we went out to play and he couldn't come out until he had dressed himself - he threw a fit for about 10 minutes alone, then got dressed and came out to play. I imagine some of it is the baby, and some is probably just trying to decide if he's really erady to be independent. It's hard not having mommy to do everything for you!