A new baby is born and the parents are ecstatic. Nothing prepares these parents for that moment- some 20 months later- when their cute little baby goes missing and a mischievous little toddler appears in his place instead.
Suddenly, the word “No” is starting to come up at least once in every conversation, and this is mostly from the side of your toddler. His favorite new activities are climbing onto the bench-top to grab an apple, insisting on wearing his sandals when it’s raining outside, and most of all, throwing himself on the floor whenever he doesn’t get what he wants… especially if you’re right in the middle of a shopping center.
So what can we do in order to keep our sanity? Can we make our little toddler do what we ask him to do?
Choose your battles carefully
You may feel like you’re not enjoying your child any more. Your interactions with him are based on yelling, punishing and being generally frustrated. In order to regain some happy moments with your child, decide what is most important for you to be strict about, and when you can loosen the rope a little. While you will probably want to draw the line in matters of health and safety (i.e. keeping away from sharp tools and not crossing the road on their own), in some other cases, it might be best to let your child do his thing. By doing so, you are bound to decrease the amount of time you spend arguing with your toddler and gain some quality time for playing, singing and just hanging with them.
Do it the fun way
There is nothing children love more than playing. There is nothing they like less than mundane repetitive activities around the house. Try using this insight to develop new and exciting ways to get your child to cooperate more with you. For example, make up a song you can sing together every evening while you’re putting back the toys. Make shopping more bearable by getting your child to assist with carrying a small bag with some of the items he likes. If eggs and wine are his favorite, forget this advice. In short, make everything difficult into a game. He might not cooperate fully, but it will nicer for you to pick up his toys while singing.
Love = no
We love our children to bits, and so it’s hard for us to tell them “no.” We convince ourselves that “it’s just this time” and “why should he help clean- he’s still a baby.” These statements may be true at times, but in general we won’t be fulfilling our role as parents if we don’t teach our children what “no” means.
As our job is to prepare our children for real life, we should make sure they understand that they can’t do everything they want all the time. A child that can handle what this world sends his way, will appreciate his parents a hundred times more. Maybe not when he’s two, or fifteen, but certainly when he becomes the proud father of a terrible two himself.
All this sounds well and good but we all know it’s rarely that simple. We all have to go through it, because all children go through it. This is a normal part of growing up. It may not be nice, it may not be pretty, but we all went through it as kids and all our kids will do the same. They will test us time and time again, to push boundaries and see how they can influence reality.
So when it gets hard and you just want to run away and hide in some dark corner, remind yourself it’s natural. And if you’re like me, try breathing in deeply, leave the room for two minutes and then try again.
Shimrit Nothman has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that like charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any questions for Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.