Toddlers & More Effective Strategies
As Isaac gets further and further into the "two year old phase" challenges seem to present themselves daily. Today, I was in a hurry and late to an appointment so I tried putting his shoes on but he wanted to do it himself. The problem with that is he couldn't put that particular pair of shoes on without help. So what ensued was a melt down as I carried both him and his shoes out to the car.
For the past week every time it's time to brush teeth, it's a struggle. He used to be great about brushing his teeth and then one day, BAM! He decided brushing his teeth was something he was no longer interested in and would fight me on EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
What happened to my easygoing, compliant baby?
He's growing up and realizing he has a mind of his own and an opinion of his own and it doesn't always (okay rarely) coincide with mine.
But what if I can change his behavior by changing my behavior?
I'm a big fan of leading by example.
Have you ever apologized to your child? Now you might be thinking there hasn't been anything to apologize for.
Except for that time you lost patience and maybe you could (or should have) had a bit more.
Or how about that time when your child was trying to do one last thing and you were like, "Nope, it's time for bed. Lets go."
If we turn the tables and put ourselves in the shoes of our child, how would you feel?
This toddler is trying so very hard to learn to communicate and not only can they not always verbally express what they want or feel, but we don't always understand and instead we have our own agenda that they must adhere to. Wouldn't that frustrate the CRAP out of you if you were so misunderstood but had to ignore what you were trying to communicate and just do what someone was telling you to do?
Think you might have something you need to apologize for now? I did. What I saw as lack of patience may or may not have been interpreted that way by my little one but I knew I could have exhibited more patience. So I sat him down in the chair and I apologized to him. I told him I was sorry and that I promised to do better and he looked at me and nodded his head and said, "yeah" and then wrapped his little arms around my neck.
They understand more than we give them credit for. Remember that.
Leading by example not only benefits our children, but it puts a "check" in place for us too and an opportunity to question whether what we're about to do or about to say is something we want our child to learn. The other day I told my husband that a certain section where we wanted to walk was closed. His response? "It is barricaded or does it just say not to walk?" MY response, "I'm not sure, but it doesn't matter. If it's asking you not to walk through there, and you're leading by example, and teaching respect than you don't walk through." I know where he got this from. I know why this was his response and I'm determined to lead by example and improve who we are as parents in doing so.
Last night I decided to change my childs' behavior by changing mine. I was tired of the struggle to brush his teeth so I placed two toothbrushes in the holder.
"Isaac, which toothbrush would you like to use?"
He pointed to our usual one and then crossed his arms over his face and clamped his lips together. Had I proceeded with what I normally said of, "it's time to brush your teeth. Move your arms, I understand you don't want to, but this isn't optional." Then flailing his arms to knock the toothbrush out of my hands would have been next.
I changed my behavior though.
"Isaac, we're either going to brush your teeth here at the sink or we're going to sit down on the toilet and brush them, but you won't be able to see in the mirror. Which do you want to do?" He said he wanted to brush where he could see but then proceeded with the arm crossing and fighting. Without saying anything I then sat down on the toilet where I could brush his teeth and not worry about holding him as well. He started saying, "up, up" to stand. As I brushed sitting there on the toilet, I explained that I had given him an option and he didn't let me brush them so we were staying right where we were and he could have another chance to stand in front of the mirror in the morning.
This morning, I once again asked the same questions and he gave the response. But this morning there wasn't a struggle. We stood in front of the mirror and brushed our teeth without any issues.
So many times I go back to Mr. Einstein and the definition of insanity. "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result"
If we want our child's behavior to change or we want our child to grow up and make better choices then we need to change our behavior to change theirs and change our habits to achieve a different result.
And apologize to your child when you could have done something better. We want them to apologize when they've made a disappointing choice so lead by example and do the same for them.
Oh, and hug and kiss them and let them know they are loved every minute of the day ❤