Parenting is tough, it requires lots and lots of patience. I’ve learnt that taking the time to understand why my little one is doing what he’s doing allows me to rationalise his actions and proceed accordingly.
The part of the brain responsible for exerting control over emotion and impulse isn’t well-developed in children under 3. This is why toddlers are much more likely to act on their desires, such as yanking a toy out of a friend’s hand, rather than saying to themselves, “I really want that toy, but it’s not right to grab, so I am going to go find myself another toy.” (via Zero to Three).
I’ve witnessed many a parent lose their cool with their toddlers in certain situations, for example in a restaurant when their toddler won’t stop dropping food (or their cutlery) on the floor. A parent gets frustrated and proceeds to take the toddlers food away to prevent them throwing. The toddler gets upset and the parent either ignores or isolates the toddler for their actions.
I’ve always found the rationale behind isolating a toddler in their time of need an odd one. “The naughty step” or ignoring a child is often used when a toddlers emotions are heightened, but surely this is when they need us most? Surely they need us to help them regulate their emotions? If this method does in fact work, then it only works because the toddler is changing their behaviour out of fear, fear for ending up isolated on the naughty step again. It can in no way teach them to effectively regulate their emotions.
It’s far from easy being a toddler and I think parents need to strive to align their expectations with their toddlers abilities. Once we do this, then it allows us to respond to our toddlers rather than reacting irrationally. I fully appreciate this isn’t always easy, it’s hard for me with one child, let alone the mums and dads with 3/4 kids running on a month of no sleep.
This post contains a number of my personal views regarding my approach to parenting, if you don’t agree then that’s cool, no judgements here. As parents we all need to do what works for us, so I’m simply sharing my view and what works for me.