In the past month my little wonderful two year-old has been more two than wonderful. Having a new little sister arrive has undoubtedly been influencing some of his behaviors, but I also think he has just hit a stage of development were he has a deep need for lots of large motor movement. After I had a couple rough days in a row with him, I spent an evening trying to “get curious, not furious” (as a mentor of mine, John Sommers-Flannagan, once said).
I do this often with my son when I feel like we have come to a “stuck” place in our relationship (or in my parenting). It’s about reflecting and trying to think through what common factors seems to be related to the troubled situations, and what I haven’t tried yet. In this case, I started realizing that my son’s challenging behavior was coming on the heels of 1 week sick (& stuck in the house sitting on the couch a lot), and another week of rain (again stuck in the house a lot).
So, we decided to have as much outside and large motor movement activities as possible for the next few days to see if it impacted his behavior. It did!
We took an afternoon to throw rocks in the river, search for bugs, and chase dogs that were nearby. It was a blast! AND, he was his best version of himself that afternoon and evening. So… this was a great reminder for me that kids this age NEED lots of time to move. We will be continuing to make room for as much outside time as possible!
With toddlers (children under 3), Distract and Redirect is one of the most powerful parenting tools you can use!
Children at this young age are often interested in doing things that they can’t really do appropriately. Ie. They want to touch baby sister, but even when you show them 3 times how to do so gently, they might still slam their hand down over baby’s face. Taking time to teach the appropriate skill is important (ie. “Here is how we can touch sister gently…” – and show them and guide their hand to do it gently). However, some children at this age might not have the muscle control or self-control to be able to follow through appropriately. There is so much still developing in their little neurons that they may not fully understand the speed and location of their touching sister is not the same as when mom demonstrated. In this case, after a few tries, it is totally okay to distract the child and redirect them to another activity that they can do appropriately. This might mean redirecting to a toy, an activity, or a different way to interact with sister: “Hey, could you bring over that toy for sister?” All are effective ways to use distract & redirect with a toddler. It’s also the perfect alternative for using “No” too often. Instead of “no”, you can just focus on distracting and redirecting the child to what they CAN do. I will write some more on this soon because it’s been on my mind a lot lately.
Read more about this great parenting tool: Distraction & Redirection here. Cheers to your happy toddler parenting!
So…… we tried to start potty training. I had been convinced by others that 20 months was too early (and the summer schedule was so busy, there wasn’t a convenient time anyway). But now Chunky Monkey is 23 months and I have started to see so many other children around me (around age 2), who were starting to use the potty. So, I thought, “I must not be too crazy to think about trying”. Right?
Well…..like everything else with our son, it has not been a text book experience. With tummy time, crawling, walking, eating…and now peeing/pooping – it seems my son doesn’t ever fit the mold of what has worked for so many others. Countless moms and dads have told me that if you try a 3-day sort of Potty boot camp, the child will figure it out. Well, I’m here to say that on day 4….my child is nowhere close to figuring it out.
We have had minor successes, so I’m not giving up completely. But I am frustrated that the well-meaning promises from experienced parents who said, “It will totally work!” have not come to fruition in this household. And believe me – we tried so many things that Pinterest promised me would work! We used a star chart, prizes, candy (which he never gets), a “potty party” for him and his dog, an Elmo potty video…and the list goes on. We celebrated every fake time his dog took a poop or pee in the potty (using a small snickers as fake poo was fun!), and did countless celebratory dances when he got even a drop of pee in the potty. Really all we could get was for him to stand on the seat of the potty with pee dripping out of his underwear that he insisted he keep on. And yes – we celebrated. I’m exhausted! This has felt like the longest 4 days of my life.
All I can say is that it seems like this child is really teaching me a lot about how to let go of my expectations and be willing to be patient with his unique process of adjusting or learning new things. Today I found an awesome video on toilet learning from the Montessori perspective. I’m past their 18 month suggested time frame, but I did appreciate the reminder that children will learn in their own time, and that it is a process. Even if they are just doing part of the process, it is a step in the right direction.:-)