How should I train my toddler in eating by himself?

Question: My child, who is two years old, insists on his independence in food. He does not accept for me to feed him. This causes him to dirty himself and his surroundings, and sometimes he scatters the food on the carpets where the colors of food cannot be removed from them. When I take the vessel of food away from him, he cries, resists, and refuses to eat at all. I do not know whether or not I should allow him to dirty everything. I am confused as to how to deal with him.

The answer: Dear sister, take life easy and adapt yourself to such matters! Do not trouble yourself and do not make your child angry! Let him feel his freedom because it is more important than his food. Let him build his personality on the principles of independence and self-confidence because these are the bases of his future. In a word, you should leave him free and not tire your nerves and his because you are in dire need of calm nerves to face the difficulties of life!

You have to put these advantages in a scale and dirty clothes, carpets, and other things in another scale and then see which of them you prefer.

There is no doubt that you will prefer the advantages of freedom, independence, and tranquility, and this is undoubtedly the right choice.

During meals, you can humor your child in any way that will make him cooperate. For example, after one, two, or three spoonfuls of food that he pours on himself, you can offer him the rest while playing with him by imitating the sound of a car, train, motorcycle, bird, or anything else.

I myself have been successful with my son “Muhammad Jawad” in this way. I would bring a spoonful of food close to his mouth and imitate the sound of the door when knocked. I would say, ‘Knock, Knock!’, and my son would reply, ‘Who is at the door?’ I would say, ‘Please open! I am the bread and egg.’ My son would then say while opening his mouth, ‘Come in please!’ Then I would put the food into his mouth.

In this way, one should play with his child and behave like him as the Prophet (S) has recommended us to do in his educational traditions.

It is a stage that will come to an end when the child grows older and becomes more reasonable while the concepts of freedom, independence, self-confidence, respect, love, and kindness are deeply rooted inside him, whereas the clothes and carpets that became dirty can be cleaned, and even if they cannot be cleaned, they have no great value when compared to the essential concepts of building the future personality of the child.

Indeed, if parents care for these bases of building their children’s personalities, they will produce wonderful fruits by them. However, most people think just of the present and ignore the distant future. For their temporary comfort, they destroy the real ease for themselves and for their children who are tomorrow’s adults.