Toddlers are people who are just starting out on life’s journey.
They are busy people. There is much to do, after all! Toddlers seem to have a plan that only they know about, and they are insatiably curious.
When we look at ourselves and how we live our adult lives it can seem that we have lost some of that curiosity and fun. I think that toddlers are marvellous in their enterprise and here are some of the things that I think they do well. They inspire me and maybe they will you too.
1. Why wait?
There is that curiosity again. They are captivated by anything and everything. They do not work from a set of assumptions, but have an open mind that allows them to engage with just about anything, from crumbs on the floor to people on buses. Looking at the familiar and everyday with fresh eyes and wonder is a mood enhancing activity and is often the door to creativity. What did you notice today?
2. Why wait?
Have you noticed how toddlers rarely wait for someone to tell them to get going and do something? If anything, they can be unstoppable as they hurtle towards the next object or activity. Have you been waiting too long to do what feels right and natural for you?
3. Keep on keeping on!
Once they are off, they do not like to stop or be stopped. They have a whole world to see. In their hurry they fall over many times. In fact, in learning to walk the typical toddler falls down 17 times an hour! They are persistent. What happens next? They get back up, and so have this marvellous capacity to bounce back, to be resilient. They don’t take failure personally or dwell on it.
4. Resistance is futile
Have you ever tried to win a battle with a toddler and found yourself embarrassed and out of ideas, usually in a very public place? From that you will know that toddlers do like much to be on their terms, and if you want their co-operation you need first to get the basics right.
They need to be well-fed and rested before you attempt something that they might not like or enjoy. Then you need to acknowledge any potential resistance before you negotiate. You might be able to offer a salve in the form of something better later or taking only a short time. Above all, you need to plan for these encounters and show respect for the toddler’s limited interest in what you want. Likewise, trying to bulldoze ourselves to do something unappealing rarely works. So, respect your limits and negotiate when something hard needs to be done.
5. I may be in a hurry but I still need time!
Although toddlers are naturally busy they do need time to adjust to changes that come into their lives.
New foods, new siblings, new carers, all take time to get used to because, unlike new toys or new places, they change the fundamentals of a child’s life. What you eat and who is in you life are two of the most important things for toddlers because they relate to physical and emotional survival.
It takes time to get used to new tastes (anything up to 15 times for some foods, so keep offering the vegetables) and it takes time and care to adjust to a baby coming into the family- like the vegetables they seem to stick around even when you don’t want them!
For us, it is important to respect that change in our lives, however welcome, takes time to adjust to. Slowing down, cutting out unnecessary demands, and looking after our bodies help us to limit the stress that comes with change.