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Gaining Independence

Feel like the tables have turned? Your once-angelic cutie who always wanted to snuggle is now independent and irritable. How (and why, oh why?) did your sweetie change overnight? Here's what to keep in mind, and what you can do about it:

Micro-teen angst? He's becoming increasingly aware of his abilities, and wants to exercise them all the time  -- just like you, at one time, wanted to drive everywhere. So be sympathetic. Because for everything he can do, there's still a lot that he can't. (Imagine how frustrated you'd be if, no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't reach the sink!)

Stay involved. Your tot really does want you to be there for him. He needs to know that you're there to catch him when he falls.

Be proud! His desire to do things on his own is an indication of your success as a parent. When your toddler sprints to the other side of the park, exuberant in his abilities and excited by his new discoveries, he's demonstrating a willingness to take on new challenges  -- something you've given him the confidence to do. And when he turns around to look at you, marvel at how his face lights up when you offer a smile and encouragement. Now that he's a "big boy," he can get the same boost and comfort with a loving look from you that he once got from a snuggle and a kiss.