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The 2 Year Old's Battle to Dress Himself

Question

My 2-year-old son wants to put on hat and gloves himself. I know this is a good normal part of development, but if the hat isn’t just right, it leads to a giant meltdown. I want to let him try these things on his own, but at what point do I step in and help him?

Answer

Thank you for reaching out to Parent Guru. The behavior you're describing is typical of kids your son's age. While frustrating, he is working on developing fine motor skills which will help him become proficient in things like putting on his own hat and gloves. You can further help him build these skills by providing him opportunities to play with blocks, construction toys from Lego, and chunky crayons. He can also have practice time at home when it's not time to leave. Dress up costumes or toys with zippers, buttons, and other latches are wonderful at this age.

At this age, you're better off spending your efforts containing the problem vs. correcting it. You're doing the right thing by taking him home when the meltdown starts. You can also contain him in your car until the meltdown stops when this happens somewhere you need to be. At home, meltdowns can be directed to a "meltdown room" like a half bath that's been emptied of any cleaning supplies and other things toddlers don't need to be able to access. If this behavior doesn't rectify itself by age 3, then you will begin to work on correcting it, but chances are, your son will be a pro by then.

Hang in there,

Dana Cockfield
Leadership Parenting Coach
danacockfield@bellsouth.net

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