Toddlers are a ton of work but if you put teaching ABCs and table manners aside for a couple of minutes, you just may get a life lesson reminder you weren’t necessarily expecting.
Toddlers are everywhere. There is not a square inch left in my home that hasn’t been crawled on, climbed up, fallen over, picked at, or colored on. What if we took to our environment the way toddlers take to theirs?
What if we stopped and touched the dirt, jumped in puddles, licked the carpet, or tried to catch the squirrel at the park? So often we sit on the sidelines and watch our children interact with the world, maybe it’s time for us to get off the sidelines and get a little dirty.
2. Throw a tantrum, then get over it.
My lovely 15 month old has recently started throwing herself on the floor and screaming when she doesn’t get what she wants (and I thought that was a two year old thing—lucky me!). While this is obnoxious, I get it. I get pissed sometimes too. The difference is, she expresses her emotions and in no more than three minutes (knock on wood), she is over it. She has moved on and that episode is over.
I, on the other hand, get mad and then think about it for the next few hours. I will replay a situation over in my head, come up with alternate responses to a situation, and generally bask in my anger until I either get over it or do something about it. It seems to me that my toddler is on to something. Instead of carrying negative feelings around with her for hours, she gets it all out and then moves right along with her day without pining over the rubber-band I wouldn’t let her play with.
I’m not saying tantrums are the way forward, but there is certainly something powerful about taking a minute to be with your feelings, acknowledging them, expressing yourself (appropriately), and then letting it go. Perhaps this kid is on to something.
3. Nap Regularly
Toddlers (well, most of them anyway), need a nap to get through the day. You know what? Sometimes I do too. There is something magical about taking a little break during the day to rest and be alone for at least a few minutes. Note taken, toddler.
4. Eat when you’re hungry and until you’re full
I’ve heard a lot of parents complain about their toddler’s eating habits over the years as a preschool teacher, nanny and health coach, and I have always found it interesting. As parents it is easy to have expectations of how much a child should eat but we tend to forget that their stomachs are the size of their fists and that they are naturally capable of knowing exactly how much they need to eat to sustain themselves.
Instead of forcing certain amounts of food on them, we can provide them with high quality foods and trust them to eat what they need. Imagine if we trusted ourselves in this same manner? What if we were to let go of all the “shoulds” of eating and actually listen to our bodies?
Back to that whole tantrum thing—there are moments throughout the day where I am the bane of my toddler’s existence. She hates when I take the Sharpie away from her and can’t understand why on earth I wouldn’t let her catapult off a chair or run through a parking lot.
She will cry and even sometimes try to hit me, but minutes later, she loves me again. In a matter of minutes she has forgiven me for whatever she was mad about and is right back to giving me sloppy, open-mouthed toddler kisses. Perhaps it’s time for us to let go of grudges more quickly and start showing the people we love just how much we love ‘em, one sloppy kiss at a time.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Pixoto/Chinchilla Photography