One of the hardest things I find as the mother of a child with physical disabilities is not doing too much for her.

Dealing with Bella’s everyday needs has become routine, I get her out of bed, take her to the toilet, clean her, dress her, feed her, brush her teeth and so continues until she goes to bed at night. 

This has been the way to keep things flowing, we get to school or appointments on time and no one has got frustrated or upset over the small things. 

There are different types of personalities - some children want to have a go at doing everything and some are happy for others to take over completely so they don’t have to raise a finger.

Bella is unfortunately the latter.

Now that Bella is 4 years old and has started school I can really see how doing all the small things has affected her and I wish I could go back and give her just a little more independence.

There are obviously things that she just cannot do at the moment, like put on her socks or splints but why haven’t I given her the opportunity to do up her own zip on her coat, or pack away her own toys?

I am guilty of helping far too much, and the main reason is time.

We always seem to be rushing from here to there and we just don’t seem to have the time to spend on practising those skills.

The other reason is patience.

If I see her struggling to do something then I just do it for her, it breaks my heart when she gets frustrated with something that should be easy.

I want Bella to live a life as independent as possible, she may not ever live alone but for her confidence I want her to be able to carry out those tasks that we all take for granted so I have began by giving her a little more responsibility.

She must pack away her toys, she must put her dirty clothes in the washing basket and she must try herself to get any toys she wants to play with before asking me to get them.

It just means that she has more belief in herself that she can do things, Bellas favourite phrase is ‘I can’t do it, can you do it for me?’ but I know that she has been doing a lot more at school then she does at home!

Bella cannot dress or undress herself but we have had OT in showing us how best to teach her to do it herself and while we don’t get time to practise in the morning, we are going up to bed earlier and practising then, she also gets the opportunity to practise at school when they do PE.

Even if she is just putting her arms through herself she gets a lot of praise.

In the bath, Bella is practising washing herself with a flannel and brushing her teeth.

She is doing very well – obviously I go over her teeth again for her but I always make remarks about how well she has done and how I don’t think I really needed to do anymore.

On the way into school now Bella has to choose, either she wheels herself into school or she has to carry her own school bag, she always chooses to carry her bag as her confidence is not quite there with controlling her own chair.

Even carrying her school bag makes her feel like she is a ‘big’ girl.

One thing that I feel very strongly about is the ability to go to the toilet alone.

At the moment our bathroom is not set up for her to even attempt sitting on the toilet alone but it will hopefully be adapted early next year and we can begin to try and gain some independence in that area.

All children will have the ability to do different things, some a lot more and some a lot less.

Bella will never find anything physical easy but I have to stop taking over and doing everything or else she will never be able to find out her own potential – it’s a lot easier said than done because all I want to do is protect her in a little bubble!

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