I have a son. He’s two. Most of the time he’s pretty awesome. When he’s not being awesome and snuggly, he’s usually grabbing breakable objects off the counter or trying to fill his sippy cup from the fridge so he can take a quick sip and then dump the rest of the water all over the floor. He has many moves but these two are his signatures.
He typically does his craziest stuff when I’m deep in thought writing blogs or working on the development of one of my courses- which also means I’m working towards a deadline. In other words he picks the most inopportune times to get into stuff. Lately with all the snow days he’s been out of preschool and has been extremely excited to help me “work” using his crayons to color my desk and pushing keys on my computer keyboard.
This is also when I know he needs my attention, my patience, my affection and my love the most.
“Those who are the hardest to love need it the most.” – Socrates
He’s not at all unloveable but this quote fits so nicely because I know moms everywhere are ready to tear their hair out when their toddlers are bent on destroying the house while they are trying to meet deadlines or get things done. So, at a time when there are multiple things that require their attention, it is hard to express love for a mischievous toddler, be a disciplinarian, and teach them what is acceptable and what is not. Clearly pouring water on the floor is unacceptable behavior, but he’s two! The process of teaching takes some time and it is clear that at this point in time he needs love and attention. Many kids also act about as a result of not receiving that one-on-one attention. So instead of yelling at him, getting super angry with him or telling him what a mischievous little guy he is, I give him exactly what he needs – my love and undivided attention, with deadlines approaching and all.
I also NEVER refer to him as “bad”. Above all he’s curious and this takes many forms. So compassion and understanding is where I jump first.
So I expect you to ask- how can you possibly do that & stop what you are doing to engage him?
To which my response is- how can I not?
He is crying out to be seen, to be played with, and to be loved. So I give that to him.
Old school parents might say that I’m letting him manipulate me. Honestly in my belief system there is not much manipulating a two year old can do. He has no clue what he’s doing. All he knows is they he wants to play with mommy and when mommy is busy it is a time to play with whatever else is around. That usually means getting into something he shouldn’t be getting into – AKA trouble.
So I give him my attention and then after 15-20 minutes of solid engagement, I go back to working and he goes back to independent play.
It’s not always easy but I have to remind myself of his needs which include loving attention. Kids don’t come with a clock or a timer that can distinguish play time or work time. They don’t know what work is yet, and so everything is playful, joyful and they are curious. So it’s up to the parents to take control and show these growing little toddlers loving compassion so they grow up to be loving and compassionate adults as well.
So when they are acting out they need our time and our love more than sternness or repermands. They need our compassionate understanding so they can grow up feeling that unconditional positive regard and unconditional love that every human being deserves.
So far it has worked for my son and I love to see him flourish.
In our world, we have a need to “get things done”, but in a child’s world, they are curious and inquisitive looking to learn all that they can from us. So what are we teaching them? Are we teaching them not to be curious and inquisitive? Are we teaching them that they are bad or mischievous? Or are we teaching that it’s okay to be curious, showing them our love and attention using compassion and understanding?
What has worked for you? I’d love to hear your story, please share in the comments below.
In love and light,