The above link is to a great article which addresses a question my wife and I have had as to why our 3yr old daughter is continually complaining and whining/crying about not being able to put on her shoes or dress herself when we know she can. We have tried everything from: “Come on, show Mommy / Daddy how you can do it.” to “Stop this silliness…I know you can do it.” Which apparently may only be placing more stress on her. (I’ve even noticed that her pretending to be a kitty cat also coincides with her demands for help with tasks she has already mastered…as if she is trying to remove herself from the situation of expectation). When attempting to translate "I can't do it!" we try to look at other potential sources of frustration that may be manifesting themselves during dressing time. We did recently move half-way across the country and she is in a new school….both of which are events mentioned in the article as potentially driving the need for a bit more nurturing.
Lately, we have been trying to practice some benign neglect out of fear that we were babying our daughter and hovering too much. Although we don’t want to contribute to an overly dependent child, perhaps we are now over-compensating and hitting her with higher expectations too suddenly. The fact that she is attending school and thriving has definitely put me in a little bit more of an achievement mode for her and this article has helped bring me back to home base. We are grateful for this new perspective and after only two days of exercising this new approach we are seeing more independence with regards to dressing about 50% of the time.