Just before my daughter Agnes's second birthday, a new aspect of her personality we dubbed "the Beast" emerged. She was still our loving, cooperative, funny angel -- except when she told us she wanted to "do it myself!"
We first noticed this behavior at the dinner table, where she insisted on pouring her own milk, and every attempt resulted in several cups of expensive organic milk spilling all over the floor. Not letting her try made the Beast appear. Letting her try and watching her spill milk everywhere made her howl with anger (the phrase "Don't cry over spilled milk" soon lost its humorous appeal). And guess what? If you have a child inching toward toddlerhood, the Beast will soon appear in your house.
As maddening as this behavior is, it's important to remember that it's a necessary bump on your child's road to becoming an independent little person -- one who will someday wriggle into his Superman Halloween costume all by himself and declare he'll wear it for the rest of his life. But as veteran parents can attest, the road to independence is filled with potholes; tantrums, frustration, and lots of spilled milk are all part of the ride. However, there are ways to navigate this bumpy terrain without blowing a gasket -- yours or your child's.