The Misunderstood Toddler
Well, I bet every mother on earth has dealt with "The Terrible Twos" at some point in their lives...and if not yet.. you just wait.. it's coming. But what if you could by pass those terrible twos? It's possible.. I promise.
Now I want to remind all of you that I am not a professional, I don't have degree in anything (other than diaper changing) so I'm not trying to sell you on that at all. All i have is the personal experiences I've lived through and the research and other information that i have collected over the years.
so here goes...
Let's be honest ok... Toddlers can be a pain in the butt some times. They whine a lot and they cry and they can't tell you what they want, which just makes them super frustrated and ends up in more crying and whining.
But hold on....I said toddlers are frustrating! Now what happens if you turn that thought around? What if YOU were the one that couldn't talk and get your ideas across and a large person just didn't understand you day in and day out? What if you were being ignored because the big person in your life just didn't GET IT.
The first thing you need to do with your misunderstood toddler is remember that He isn't trying to drive you crazy. the crying and whining serves a purpose for him. He's trying to communicate with you. The problem is.. YOU! ironically. You don't get him. Toddlers are very smart.. but people underestimate them everyday. Just because you child doesn't talk, doesn't mean he is incapable of understanding. We tend to think "he's 2, what does he know, he's just a baby" well... yes that's true he is a baby.. but a baby who has been watching, listening and learning since the moment he was born. That's 2 whole years of OBSERVATION. 2 year of taking it all in and filing it away. So while he may not outwardly display all he knows... It's all in there. Everything you've ever done while he's been around is filed neatly into his sponge like brain.
The next thing you must do is become empathetic towards you're misunderstood toddler. Think about it. How hard would it be if you couldn't talk at all and you tried ordering a Grande Caramel Macchiato from the nearest Starbucks? and when you try to use hand motions to explain what you want to the barrista, they simply decide that you aren't worth the time to understand and ignore you. How would you feel? Would you get frustrated? would you feel hopeless and sad? would you want to cry? This is how it is for toddlers. So showing some empathy for them will help you.
Decoding them would be the next step. If you know your toddler, then sometimes it will be easy to decode him. They are resourceful little people and will try to work with you on getting their point across. If you take the time to decode them, they will be less inclined to cry and whine. But what happens when it's not so easy to decode your toddler? Well then, some creativity is in order. You have a 2 year grunting and pointing at SOMETHING in the kitchen, but you can't seem to figure out what. Pick him up and ask him "Can you show me?" oh yes he can!! You may have to go around the room touching things a few times until you get to the right thing, but isn't that better than dealing with a screaming child?
By taking the time to understand our children, we are reenforcing to them that they are WORTH it. that they mean something to us. A Child that is told everyday through actions and words that they are important to their parents is a child that is self confident and assured. It is the child that is ignored or shown that they are not worth it by the people they love the most, is the child that internalizes their thoughts and strives to find what they are lacking at home, somewhere else.
The best thing you can do for your misunderstood toddler is give them your time. The road to success starts early. It is our job as parents to build up strong, loving, independent children who are shown on a daily basis that they are equal members of society.
That brings me to another point as well. If we are to raise well adjusted children then we have to respect them. They are just small people, not 2nd class citizens. They deserve to be treated with dignity, love and respect. Think of it this way... If you wouldn't speak to your boss that way, or disrespect your grandmother in that fashion then maybe it's not something you should be doing to your child either.
Remember when i spoke of your child being a sponge and that he has been watching and listening to you since the moment he was born? Well remind yourself of this every day, many times a day if needed. They model the behaviour that they see... If you aren't on the straight and narrow, no amount of "do as i say, not as i do" will keep them straight either.
We can not depend on Teachers, friends or the media to teach our children right from wrong, or how to behave in a public place, or how to treat others with love and respect if we are not doing it ourselves, if we are not loving and respecting THEM.
You can totally by pass those "terrible twos" but you have to put the work in first. Everyday is a new challenge, and i for one am not perfect in my parenting. but once you get the idea of Respecting your toddler and seeing things from his point of view... he will no longer be Misunderstood... He'll be your Wonderful Child.