As my daughter starts formulating sentences from words she understands, she uses those words to communicate with us. On many occasions she attempts to help Lucy and I in some of our daily tasks. Her latest tasks have involved trying to help us clean the furniture, pick things up around the house, and most importantly feeding our Labrador Juanga when he is sick and does not want to eat.
Being a first time dad it amazes me, how quickly she is growing and more importantly evolving into a fully functional human being.
Limited Abilities at the Moment
Her desire to take charge and get some things done is admirable. The desire however sometimes is not up to speed with her abilities. On occasions Lucy and I perceive that she wants to change her own diaper. This brought the opportunity for Lucy to start with the first steps of potty training. Since our daughter can’t change her diaper that seems to frustrate her. We try to take that energy and channel it to a possible long-term solution (potty training).
Daniela has been feeding herself since she was eight months old. First with her fingers and then with spoons and forks. She will usually feed herself but when we are on a time constraints or if we are at a restaurant and there is not child seat, we might need to help her with feedings. She might be thinking, “Hey I can feed myself at home, why can’t I do it here?” When we see her getting frustrated, we try to be patient and find something she can accomplish so she can feel useful and continue to challenge herself.
Defusing a situation when she is getting frustrated can be as easy as giving her a new task like picking up her toys or making her walk and hand something to another adult. Taking these actions makes her feel useful and calms her down.
The Magic Word “Ayuda”
For those occasions where our daughter is having trouble with something, she will cry very loudly, and so we saw the opportunity to teach her the word “Ayuda” which means “Help”. This calms her down while we take action and help her accomplish what she wants to do which can be as simple as taking off the lock code of an iPad or opening a door. We have also taught how to say “Excuse Me” or “Permiso” , “Please” or “Por Favor” (useful when she wants to be breastfeed or wants something handed to her), “Thank You” or “Gracias”. All of these other words are the building blocks of etiquette with us and other people she may encounter.
At 19 months she has already learned how to pick up after herself but if there are other distractions, she will just sing the Clean-Up song while Lucy and I pick up what she has left on the floor.
To keep our daughter entertained we make her feel like she is being productive. It keeps her from being bored and also is a great opportunity to teach them chores while keeping it fun for her.
It would be great if she continues to be as excited to help when she becomes a teenager.