Just about a year ago, when my kid turned two, somebody very sweetly told me that it was the time I ‘should’ be enjoying amidst the chaos thrown at me by a two year old. No matter how chaotic and upside down the world would turn out to be, yet I was supposed to enjoy my life with him. At that point of time, I perceived the lady as someone quite sarcastic and even dim-witted to some extent, but the more, I observed, monitored and experienced life with my kid, the more I understood the sanity in her words.
As parents, we dread the terrible two’s and troublesome three’s in the lifecycle of our child. Alas, if only we could decode the world through their eyes, the world wouldn’t seem so hard on us. I wouldn’t say that I understood everything that drove my child’s absurd behavior, but observing and reading helped me decode certain things behind his totally erratic behavior.
To help you decode the world through a toddler’s eyes, let me help you don the glasses of a two year old and take on the journey.
- I want something, so I have to have it now: Now to you this kind of demand is completely selfish, especially when your kid demands something just out of the blue or right after seeing a picture of his favorite ice cream. However, in their world things are wired and shaped slightly differently. Toddlers have strong cravings with such passion that they feel the need to have something there and then, without much delay. They don’t have the maturity to wait. In their world, if they are not getting an object, they might never get it again and so the sudden outburst or the high pitched scream. With poor self-control, ability to focus and listening skills to reason, the toddlers are unable to develop resistance against something, told explicitly not to do! Hence, asking them to wait for their turn (unless you keep the wait time short) or listen to you is usually a futile attempt. The best bet in such cases is to distract them or remove that object of distraction immediately.
- I have to see and listen to everything: Have you been surprised how meticulously your toddler has picked up all the wrong words from your conversations, which you happily said, assuming the child wasn’t listening? Well, that’s no surprise! Toddlers, no matter how engrossed or busy they look, are actually absorbing, by way of seeing and hearing everything from around. They have open minds, with fewer inhibitory neurotransmitters and hence the brain is always charged up to stimuli. Therefore, while you are assuming that they ignore the shadows, the trees, leaves and blooming buds around, they might be absorbing and taking in each and every sight, sound, smell, just like the way you do when you visit an exotic location.
- I only have one point of view: Now this theory gets all the more proven, when your child is playing hide and seek with you and you find him hiding behind the curtains, while jutting his feet out. Well, for them the world is as the way they see. “If I can’t see nothing, nothing can see me”! To perceive another point of view is not their cup of tea. For them, another point of view is a very complicated theory. So while you explain to him things like, “We are going home in five minutes”, the time duration of five minutes doesn’t ring a bell. Instead try to explain the sequence of events like, “We will leave after you wear your shoes and say bye to everybody”!
- I want you and your attention all the time: Children have the uncanny habit of seeking attention of their parents, or a caregiver through something or the other. They would cling on to you, cry or even whine to get that uninterrupted attention of yours. In fact, whining is often an easy way out because good or bad, they don’t care, but it gets the parent’s attention immediately. In their world, they don’t care nor do they understand whether the whining for something is good behavior or bad behavior. As long as they get your attention and eventually get their object of desire, it is an efficient tool. Hence, as a parent, try and figure out the agenda behind whining and either ignore or distract the child with something else. Giving in to their whining will help them have their way out for almost everything! So reason and react well!
- I want you to read my mind: This is the toughest of all for parents. I remember when my two year old kid wanted his food on a plate, I would often hand it over in a steel plate. His sudden outburst and frustration would often leave me shocked as I didn’t know what went wrong. It took me a good three days to understand that he wanted his ‘Mickey mouse plate’ and not some other random plate. Toddlers, with minimal vocabulary often feel flustered for not being able to convey their message, especially when in their minds, they believe that they have communicated well and the mother should understand. Looking out, by way of observing through their hand gestures, repetitive behavior and body language, helped me gauge his interest and needs better.
Although, things aren’t as easy as the way they sound in here, yet staying equipped with very little as this much information, helps in keeping our degree of overwhelming reactions in control. At least, I believe that if you are consciously trying to remind yourself about the logic behind that mess (created by your toddler for the umpteenth time), then life is a tad bit easier and not-so-serious-and-tough as before.