By Myself

Eliza Clark
June 28, 2008

Isn't it revealing how the phrase "by myself" can evoke such extreme, contradictory emotions in our little ones? There is, of course, the pride of achievement and self-sufficiency. But there is also the scary feeling of being all alone.

"I do it by myself!" your two-year-old will insist, teetering up a steep set of stairs while you shadow her from behind, every step of the way.

"Don't leave me by myself!" your four-year-old might cry about being alone in the dark -- the same child who has been sleeping on his own for years.

That kind of push and pull, it seems, is at the heart of every great love story. And parenting is nothing if not an amazing love story.

Yet we are in the business of teaching these much adored little ones everything they need to know in order to leave us, one day. We hope they'll take with them the confidence and sense of self they've been gaining all along. And we'll want them to know that we're still with them, every step of the way.

Along those lines, we want to mention a few ways to give a child that great "I did it myself" boost, without the worry of feeling "all by myself." There are so many amazing new design ideas for children these days -- enough to make your head spin. But today we are more of a mind to praise a few simple objects that help children to feel more sure of themselves: nightlights to give them see-in-the-dark eyes; step stools to make them taller; child-level coat racks and cubbies so they can know where to find things, and put them away too.

These most commonplace objects help children help themselves -- and that's just the kind of help we want to give them. Tell us, what little things help your kids do things by themselves?

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    As our kids got older, we began moving things down to kid level -- small bowls for snacks, the snacks themselves, plastic glasses for water, the healthy stuff in the fridge. Now the kids know that they can help themselves when they're hungry, and I don't spend my afternoons walking back and forth to the kitchen. The system isn't always perfect. I sometimes find out that they've been snacking when they shouldn't have been, but for the most part, it works and they make pretty good choices.

    over a year ago

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