Tag Archives: Toddler

DS and his tricks

Walking in the orange grove

I woke up this morning and scrolled through my facebook page and found a link to this blog, and the blogger is blogging about Gentle Discipline.

This is something that I can really relate to, and something that I definitely aspire to, and something that inspires my parenting. Yes, lots of very non-committal stuff. As a disclaimer, I definitely will never hit my children and I hope to be a stronger, better person and not loose my temper with the resulting raised voice and feelings of intense anger.

But, I am not a 100% perfect parent 100% of the time. And it worries me that at first glance Gentle Discipline can come off as holier than thou and give the impression of parents who have endless patience and time to handle the whims of babies and toddlers, while ensuring that their own needs are met.

Sometimes I do. Like this morning DS took my car keys as he wanted to press the button to unlock the car doors and then would not give me back my keys. He was strapped in his car seat, I was sitting in the drivers seat and he still would not give them back. Now, I was not in a particular hurry to get anywhere, we were off to the park to meet up with friends. So we waited. I patiently explained that we would sit in the car going nowhere until I got the keys and eventually (about 10 minutes later) he gave them to me. I decided that whatever his reason for needing to hold onto my keys, it was sufficiently good enough for me to not take them back forcefully. It was not in immediate conflict with my needs. Had I needed to be somewhere, I would not have been able to give him the time to decide to give me back my keys.

I never thought I would be a parent stuck in my car while my toddler won’t give me my keys. I was sure only the weakest parents would allow such a situation to happen. And yet, today, that was a perfectly acceptable experience for both of us. I don’t like power struggles with him, unless they are needed. Like when he is running around with a knitting needle that he has found, I will take it away from him. Or like when he wants to pull the keys off my laptop and I close to to protect the remaining keys.

However, I do not always have the time, energy or reserves to be patient and understanding. Sometimes I NEED to sleep, go the the loo, cook, get somewhere, etc. And those times I cannot entertain the same level of flexibility in my planning and response.

Another trick is that he is imitating his grandfathers smoking. Any long cylindrical object he finds become a kada-ran (his word for a cigarette). And he ‘smokes’ it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I know he is just imitating, and that he is not about to start smoking, but it makes me a little sad and a little angry that this is something he values (I know it’s his grandfather he values, but still).

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Toddler behavior

At our local organic cafe with his birthday truck

I have been wringing my hands over DS’s sudden fearful behaviour around other children. I have a friend who homeschools her two boys 5 years old (Y) and 2 years old (E) and I noticed that DS has become quite fearful when visiting their home which led me to soul search the wisdom in keeping bringing him into an environment where he is obviously unhappy. He is not used to shouting, loud children and pretty much ended up on my lap most of the time. I really need the time to be with a like minded mother to share thoughts and experiences, making it hard for me to decide where to draw the line.

He also has been shouted at and pulled in the homeschooling group by girls and boys. Again, this has resulted in him only wanting to be on my lap and breastfeeding frequently for comfort.

In both these instances I have deliberated what my role is. I know that I would not force DS to get off me and ‘go and play’ if that is not what he wants to do. If he wants to be with me that is absolutely fine. However, I do have a nagging doubt that he is not learning the skills he needs to handle himself in the world, where people just are nasty to each other, well some people anyway.

As I write that I know it is absurd. Why am I worrying about a 2 year old and his social skills???? He’s not supposed to have any to speak of. He’s just two! He will grab things, he will throw things, he will get angry if he doesn’t get his way. I cannot expect him not to. I guess my role is to guide him and make sure that he and other children in his environment are safe. It’s a matter of how to do that. And I am not sure what level of involvement is required from me. Do I physically restrain him with words, without words? Do I follow him around making sure that he is not hurting another child/being hurt by another child all the time? If so, are we better off not being around other kids and waiting until DS has more control over his impulses/knows how to stand up for himself?

Today DS had a blast with both boys and really enjoyed running up and down a hill of gravel, throwing stones into a pond, playing in the sand pit, making Y laugh with his tricks of throwing objects. It was pretty rough going for me to switch roles from comforter of a timid boy to having to make sure children and animals were not hurt by DS’s flying projectiles. Now DS and Y get on well and interact in a more postive way. It is pretty remarkable to see the difference. To Y’s credit, he handled himself very well when DS threw a stone at him that hit Y on the leg during a game of throwing stones into the pond. Y really wanted to throw the stone back at DS, but stopped, changed his mind and threw it into an open, empty area. He accepted my apology, his mothers explanation that DS does not yet understand that it is not fun to throw stones at people. I was really impressed with his ability to get over such a distressing event.

Sigh, we’ll see what DS’s immediate future holds with socialization. I do not want him to learn to be rough with other kids, but I do want him to learn to stand up for himself if he needs it. Too much presure for a two year old? I have no idea…. I’m making this up as I go.

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It hurts

I have still been mulling over this incident with DS and me becoming so frustrated and angry that I ignored him and forced him into his car seat.

I feel I have lost my mothering instinct. Up until now, it had been fairly simple to meet DS’s needs. As in it is easy to have a settled happy baby when I have had enough sleep, DS has had enough sleep and we are both in a baby friendly environment. I have not had to soul search too much about what DS needs – it’s fairly obvious. As soon as I accepted that DS’s needs were my responsibility to meet.

But now when he hits me, or pokes my eye or screams to avoid something, I am bewildered. I just do not know what it is that he wants – what it is that is being asked of me. For all I know he is asking me to play with him, bake something, work in the garden…. or maybe he is just saying he has had enough of something.

I have no idea.

On the one hand there is a part of me that is a little horrified that I am even trying to figure out what DS wants. The way I was brought up, it would not be important. I would have been expected to do what was needed in that moment regardless of whether I wanted to or not. There never would have been a discussion about it and my crying would have been ignored or even denied. And I do not think my parents did this because they did not love me. I think they believed that this is the way that children learn to be part of a family/society – cruel to be kind kind of thing.

So it hurts when I was told by my mother that I cried for 3 years most days after school (my father says this is not true – I cired from time to time, not most days). 3 years that I was left without a safe haven and no one to support me. It makes me want to weep for the child I was. It makes me rage at my parents. The cruelty that I experienced at the hands of the other girls in my class was not much compared to the devastation that my parents didn’t try to help me or find out why I was crying for 3 YEARS.

And this all brings me to what is happening in my life now as a mother. I never want DS to experience that lonliness or isolation that I did. Even if the world is not treating him well, I want him to have a safe place where he knows that he can be loved and accepted. BUT. How can I parent freely when I have this underlying goal? DS is a different person than I am, and heย  will have different needs and challenges in his life. I do not think it is good enough to just prevent the pain I had. I want to meet his needs – be there for him, not my own ghost.

I am very cautious of falling into the trap of parenting DS in the way that I wish I had been parented. I do not want to parent out of a knee jerk reaction, but rather be left free in my parenting – free to meet the child in front of me.

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Stimulation and the enriched environment

With a title like this it can only mean that I am feeling very insecure about my choices and I have been doing some digging to make me feel better about my choice and why it is the best one for me and my family.

My aquaintance from the local funky mamas has started her son (2 days older than DS) in a kindy type set up – I don’t know what the term is, as play group seems to be when the mothers are present and this is mom-free. She is raving about it and I think would love for my DS to be part of the group. It’s all open ended toys, organic whole foods type of parents. So it could be my kind of thing…. BUT

For a 14 month old? This mum described how a day was organised for the children where people dressed up in costumes from different cultures and served food from that culture and it sounds amazing. But for a 14 month old? What on earth would that mean to my DS? What tools does he have to decode that experience and make sense of it?

I am also aware that I have a different approach to stimulation than many people around me. I do not feel comfortable pointing things out to DS. A bit like I do not feel comfortable coaching him to say words. What I do feel comfortable with is answering his quesitons. He has taken to pointing at things and touching things while looking at me as if to say “and this? what is this?”. He does say something that sounds like “et zeh” which would mean “this” in English when he points to things. He also says ‘ptzzz’ to things. Anyway, when he points to things, I do find myself naming the thing he is pointing to. It feels right and for now I am going with what feels right. As a reminder to myself – there is no need to worry about DS’s development until a problem is spotted. Then there are many professionals who know how to help, should we need their help.

My best solution so far. Provide a nurturing environment and let DS choose how to interact with it. I certainly do not have a firm enough grasp on every aspect of child development to be 100% confident that I know more about what my DS needs to be doing than he does. I see my role as providing the environment and the support and letting him do the rest. And he loves immitating me sweeping, raking, vacuuming, stirring, clapping, etc. My gut tells me this is enough for now. (Although more of a structured rhythm would be nice – slowly slowly I’ll get there)

And I am guessing that this environment will not be provided in a kindy for 14 months olds. The temptation to teach something would be too huge. And there is time enough later for DS to be formally instructed.

I am wanting to find a solution for DS to be in regular contact with a group of children/parents. I do not feel comfortable with me and DH being his primary sources for socialization….. hmmmm

More like it :)

More like it ๐Ÿ™‚

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