challenging, glorious, chaotic, magic filled, stubborn to the bone, beautiful, fleeting, toddlerhood.
i was a nanny for several years before i became a momma. five years ago, i graduated from the university of utah with my b.s. degree in human development and family studies with a child life emphasis. (the field of child life focuses on decreasing the stress of a medical experience for a child...more on this in a minute.) i worked at a preschool for a few years as well. i've volunteered at primary children's medical center for years with the child life team. i wanted to share some wisdom i've acquired from these experiences when delicately meshed with the day to day realm of motherhood.
one // tell them WHAT to do, instead of what NOT to do.
this is one of the most revolutionary things i learned while in college and working in a preschool. i realize that i has the potential to sound nutty, because i laughed myself when i first heard it. however, it works. it is truly a game changer in your parenting and caring for a young child. so often we can fall into the trap of repeating "don't do that" or "stop doing this". it can be easy to forget little souls benefits tremendously from a simple, "hey, let's do this." for example, if you little one is running, isn't of losing your cool and yelling, "don't run!" you can gently remind them "hey, let's walk instead please." giving them an option is a huge comfort to them and clearly states what is expected of their behavior.
two // quiet tantrums with humor and redirection.
many times i've resorted to silly dancing antics in an effort to make miss s laugh so much that she forgets what she is mad at and can direct her attention elsewhere. redirection is one of my favorite tools in my arsenal of tricks. and laughter? we really can fix so much with humor.
three // involve them every chance you get; foster autonomy everywhere you can.
erik erikson is one of my favorite developmental theorists. he believed that we all go through stages, or crises in life. the first, from birth to one year is a trust versus mistrust dynamic we must all make peace with in our world. the second is autonomy versus shame and doubt. autonomy is basically self confidence, their faith in themselves. this is why toddler are so determined to do every little thing without our help. ;) when you can foster autonomy it builds up a strong, secure base that will last them through their childhood and well into adulthood. let them climb into the car by themselves, even if it takes a few extra minutes.
four // follow their lead.
sookie is my sensitive and emotional gal. first and foremost i remind myself (often!) to throw the rules out the window and listen to what her heart is telling me. it has never lead me wrong. i had blueprints in my head of what i wanted our parenthood story to consist of, and honestly? from day one i have made it important beyond all else to follow her lead. even if that meant going against decisions i thought were set in stone. go with the flow is a fabulous mantra here. and yes, it is perfectly fine if you have to remind yourself of this several times a day. chant it, over and over and over, until it is written all over your heart.
five // play.
kids learn through play. they discover truths about the world, they find the depths of themselves, they grow confidence in their physical and mental abilities. when adults join them in creative play, it immediately improves the quality and duration of play. when you use your imagination as a parent, it increases the scope of your child's imagination as well. one of my favorite quotes is jean piaget's "play is a child's work."
i would love to end this with lyrics from a song i am obsessed with right now, kate earl's one woman army. to me it is a gorgeous love letter to motherhood. :)
never knew what i was signing up for
knew it was hard
but not this hardcore
what i do, i do for you the best i can
build a life for you with my own two hands
i hope these tips have helped you! i was reminded last weekend of the tremendous power and beauty in the simple act of women supporting women, and i knew i had to finish up this post and publish it this week. in all honesty toddlerhood is hard, it is one of the most challenging things i've done in this life. however i really believe you can embrace the whimsy of it all and hold onto your sanity at the same time, all while building a safe and wondrous world for your child.
happy friday! :)
also, don't forget that google friend connect (gfc) is over as of july 1st. however! you can follow a happy girl on blog lovin' so you don't miss a post! :)