This wasn’t something I planned. Nicky was standing in his standard position under the cupboard where the biscuits are. Grunting for biscuits, obviously. I have no idea how long he had been standing there but I went over to give him a hug and tell him all about the yummy fruit I had for him in the fridge. (Yes: I am working on replacing biscuits with fruit). In any case, I noticed the floor was wet. I then felt his pants, which I had just changed from when he was playing in the mud. Wet. I slowly pulled them down. He had pulled the nappy down. I’d like to think I didn’t have it on properly in the first place, but maybe he did pull it down. (He has been doing that lately. Or maybe it was heavy. We are doing a little bit of potty training, but that’s for another post.)
And the changing continued….
There are no explanations for some of the things that toddlers get up to. But there is some comfort. I have just been reading this brilliant book “Toddler Calm” and it is so reassuring. I thought I’d share some of her ideas on how the aspects of toddlers that we find so frustrating and immature are actually building blocks to a more mature adult.
1) Empathy is learnt by our actions, not theirs. This was a real eye opener for me. One of my biggest frustrations with Nicky at the moment is that he doesn’t seem to get that the dog (Coffee) doesn’t appreciate being hit, have sand thrown at, etc. Neither do I, for that matter. While I manage and re-direct on a case by case basis, it is comforting to know that toddlers simply don’t have the mental capacity to see things from another person (or animal’s) point of view. The key is to show empathy towards THEM, acknowledge THEIR feelings and they will learn empathy.
2) Curiosity and a desire to learn are developed if we accept this exploration. I’m sure I’m not the only one tearing my hair out at all the stuff my toddler gets up to. The other day he emptied a packet of sugar on the floor and drove his trucks through it. He uses all manner of things to pretend to be cellphones (see picture of drinking and chatting on a tube of bum cream). He likes to experiment with water, juice and pouring which makes a huge mess too. He loves being outside kicking up the dirt and getting totally dirty. If there’s water involved so much the better. The frustration I feel is all me – he is just busy exploring his world. Yes, I can redirect him out of harm’s way, but I also need to appreciate that my little scientist is busy creating things.
3) Commitment also manifests in the strangest ways. I do want to raise a boy who isn’t afraid of hard work, sticking it out and focused. It’s just unfortunate that as a toddler the way those things turn out are very trying for a mum. The other night I made the mistake of doing something on my phone before bath time. Oh boy. Did he ever want that phone. Did he ever want to take the phone into the bath. It was the quickest bath ever. He cried the whole time. He cried while I changed him. Finally he was re-united with the phone and I could leave him happily looking at my pictures. He doesn’t forget about his favourite toys either and insists on going to bed with a car.
4) Before independence comes clingy. Nicky becomes especially clingy when he is tired, cranky, or just upset about some random thing (like I won’t let him have another biscuit). But I know that letting him have that time to cry and just acknowledge his pain is important. Tantrums are a way to release all that emotion and we need to provide that safe place for it. I also remember when I was teaching the 4/5 year old preschool age group I had one kid who for a time would not come inside but clung to his bag outside. He missed his old school. We comforted him and got him inside, even though he cried for about a week. Years later I taught the same kid in Grade One and the difference was like chalk and cheese. What a mature kid! One day we heard a preschooler crying and I reminded him: he was just like that kid a few years ago. We all need that space to cling so that one day we can let go.
I’ve only just started reading this book but I sure am enjoying it and I hope you enjoyed the notes too.