Dealing with the dramas of a toddler day in and day out can be draining to say the least.
Some days, you may feel like your little one is doing everything in his power to make you lose your cool! However, it is important to remember that the very behaviours that you find most frustrating to deal with – his stubborn streak and his desire to challenge every little thing you say, for example – are actually positive proofs that your toddler is developing a strong sense of self and learning his place in the world.
So, celebrate these little declarations of independence.
While your toddler may not be able to communicate exactly what he wants, it is most likely along the lines of one of these:
1. Mummy, I Need to Explore and Experiment
Sometimes, these explorations or experiments may conflict with your sense of sanity, especially when his desire to paint and learn about colour ends up all over your floors, carpet and living room wall.
2. Mummy, I Need to Do Things Myself (But Only if You Are Close By)
Have you discovered that “me do it” is your toddler’s favourite phrase? This can be great for his independence but can also make it impossible to get through any simple task. Let him try to dress himself, brush his teeth, wash his face and do anything else, but always be there to lend a hand if frustration takes over.
3. Mummy, I Need to Decide What’s Best For Me
There will come a time when your toddler will choose what he wants to wear (rain boots in the stink of summer), what he wants to eat for dinner (chips!) and when he wants to leave (and it’s never when you want to). Asserting his independence from you and demonstrating that he has opinions is all part of the process of growing up. He is most likely not trying to be difficult or defiant but rather is trying to gain some control.
4. Mummy, I Need to Be the Centre of Attention All the Time
Your toddler is not quite able to understand other people’s feelings and thus, in his eyes, the world revolves around him. Remind him that you are busy and that you will be with him as soon as possible. In time, your toddler will learn to share, even your attention.
5. Mummy, I Need to Be Rewarded
Toddlers need a lot of praises in order to learn right from wrong. Make a big deal if he colours on the page (and not the table) and encourage his creativity as much as possible. Furthermore, toddlers also need to be reassured that, even on those extra bad days, you still love them, unconditionally.
6. Mummy, I Need to be Reminded…Often
Yes, your baby is growing up, but his memory is far from mature. Just because you told him to clean up his mess yesterday, doesn’t mean he will automatically remember to do the same today.
7. Mummy, I Need To Do Something Right Now (Not Later)
Impulsiveness is a key trait for toddlers. Self-control is something that he will learn as he goes along. Furthermore, your child may not understand that some impulsive decisions are actually dangerous, such as jumping into the swimming pool without you. He will want to assert his independence from you, but he is simply not programmed to do so just yet. It is a constant battle trying to encourage his independence all the while keeping him safe. But, this is all part of the fun of raising a toddler!
How do you handle your toddler’s declaration of independence?