Thank you so much for the overwhelming response for my last week’s article. I could feel in your responses that many of you could see yourself in the experiences that I shared. There were a lot of parents coming down with very specific queries. Based on your responses I decided to share and talk about toddler parenting a little more in detail.
Let me start with an experience:
“I was in South Africa for the IPL, when I misplaced my sun glasses, I was extremely upset and once back in room, was trying to track them down frantically. Besides being expensive they were my favorite pair too. I was alternating between jogging my memory from when I had seen them last to where I had kept them.
As I was pacing up and down the room, my four-year old daughter kept nagging me, following me mumbling something. Once or twice she pulled my hand too, I asked her to come later or keep quiet. She did not stop.
I kept switching over from one call to another and she kept seeking for attention. At last I lost my patience as I had neither the time nor the patience to listen to her right then. It was important that I trace the sun glasses without much time having passed.
I lost my cool and screamed, “Can’t you see that mummy is upset and busy? Do not bother me now!" Saying that I walked out of the room and she said, “But mummy, all I want to say is that you can have my pink Cinderella glasses. Please do not be so upset.”
I scooped her in my arms. Very often have I prayed to god to help me teach my daughter right values! Well, that day, I was the student and not just on generosity but unconditional love too! I did realize that day."
The above was a personal experience shared by the Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon during one of her interviews that I happened to listen recently. I am sure most of you also would have gone through similar incidents in our routine life.
We often do not stop and listen to what our kids tell us, we hear them, yes, but do we really listen? If we did, then we would find our very own true north compass in the minds of those tiny tots.
Not just this, there are many issues which we face in our daily routine while handling toddlers which might become quite stressful to us.
Let’s look at a few of the situations and see the world through a toddler’s eye.
1. At 18 months, toddlers are just starting to be interested in interacting with other kids, playing with them rather than side by side. But the rules of social play are not instinctive - kids need to be taught about taking turns and being gentle.
In fact, aggressive behavior, such as biting, is normal. It’s developmental. It’s how they react. Also normal is the reluctance to share. Developmentally, they are just not ready for dealing with only one truck or always taking turns.
2. A lot of the defiance that we attribute to toddler behavior stems from their limited ability to control their impulses. Your daughter may know that chucking food off the high chair is a no-no, but try as she might, the urge to see her food go splat on the floor can be overwhelming.
On the other hand, when a toddler’s impulses and desires are frustrated, the reaction can be intense. (And there is so much frustration in a toddler’s world: from the noodle that won’t stay on the spoon to the grown-up who doesn’t understand what she’s trying to say.) It’s very difficult for her to rein in her anger and resist the urge to hit, throw or have a tantrum.
3. Toddlers have a hard time understanding their emotions, let alone controlling them. And they don’t have the perspective or experience to realize that the deep sadness they feel over a broken favorite toy will soon pass.
Toddlers need help to identify and cope with their feelings. Along with your own reassuring cuddles, it can be helpful to introduce self-soothing techniques, such as hugging a favorite toy, sipping water or breathing deeply.
4. How can a child follow instructions if he doesn’t understand what’s being asked of him? Language and attention skills are just developing in toddlerhood, so it’s important not to overestimate what kids can comprehend - that will just lead to frustration on both sides.
Children can often understand what parents are asking, but it’s hard to follow directions the way we want them to. Adults need to guide them.
Let’s look forward to the next article to know what exactly would work while dealing with your toddlers.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)