Photo from Pixabay.com
I like to think that I’m OK at this parenting thing. And then I get a good ol’ slice of humble pie and am reminded that: 1) I really don’t have control over very much; and 2) My kids have their own personalities and I can’t MAKE them do anything. (Dang it! 😉 )
To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you about a funny encounter I had with my 3 year old man-cub recently:
C: “Mommy, I need something else to eat.”
ME: “Ok, do you want an apple? Or some bread?”
C: “No. These are my two choices: Candy, or Fruit by the Foot.”
Oh really now? I didn’t realize you were the one giving the choices around here now, Mr. C! 🙂 I’m still cracking up about this!
Lately I’ve been worrying that I might tell my toddler “No” too often. Believe me, I don’t want to be a permissive parent (see The 4 Parenting Styles). But I’ve been thinking: I don’t want to stifle my son’s energy and imagination. This boy of mine talks non-stop most of the day, sometimes driving me to hide out in my room so I can have a moment’s peace. But I LOVE that he is so articulate and I love that he WANTS to be with me!
Our children are constantly seeking out our approval, our validation. It can be difficult sometimes to remember that they see the world very differently than we adults do; a child’s world is full of wonder and questions, and everything is SO FUN!
I believe parents should structure an environment that is safe enough and appropriate enough for their children so they- parents- only have to say “NO” when necessary. “Necessary” can be when a child is doing something dangerous, for example.
Because I have a 3 year old, I’ve come up with a list of ways parents can create that child-friendly environment that is specific to toddlers, which will allow them to say “YES” more often than they say “NO”:
How to Create a Child-Friendly Home Environment
Do the obvious child-proofing (remove unsafe objects such as low-hanging blind strings)
Create designated safe spaces for your child to BE a child (where they can run around, jump, get things a little messy)
Allow yourself to be OK with messes (Don’t expect to have a perfectly clean home, especially during the day while your child is awake!)
Always speak kindly to your child
When you do have to say “No” to your child, redirect them and help them understand why they shouldn’t do what they’re doing
Let your child talk your ear off- one day you may have to beg them to talk to you! (This one is specifically for me! 🙂 )
Make the rules clear and be consistent (For example, in our house, it is never OK to hit others. Whenever my 3 year old does this, he automatically gets a 3 minute time out or gets a toy taken away for a few hours.)
I love this quote! It helps me keep my mommy perspective positive and loving, even when my patience is wearing thin:
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” (Peggy O’Mara).