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The Boyer Blog: A Few Thoughts on Life with Toddlers....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Life with Toddlers....

I had always heard, “Watch out for those terrible two’s”. I really don’t think it has anything to do with being two – sometimes it’s being three. But it doesn’t have to be terrible. It’s just another “season” and as always, each toddler handles it differently according to their God-given personality and how you handle it. Some children are very sensitive and respond to “no” by crying. Others are headstrong and test the limits. You and your husband need to get your heads together (over a steak dinner, of course) and set a few but simple rules of behavior. Don’t expect your child to automatically know what you expect. I remember Carrie, at about a year old, couldn’t talk very well yet, and would want to communicate with me, but couldn’t get her point across, so she would scream. This “season” didn’t last terribly long, but I tried to put myself in her shoes. She was number eight in the lineup, it was hard to get a word in edgewise, and she had trouble mustering up the words anyway. I would try to ask her what the problem was and remedy the situation, but it wasn’t always easy. Neither would it have been right to just spank her and expect quietness. She had a frustration and couldn’t express it so she had to be taught how to properly express it. It was just a blip in her training. 
The main thing to remember is to deal with your children reasonably and with understanding, as you would want God to deal with you.
Then there’s Laura, a little bundle of energy (my only child who loved the wind in her face as an infant). She was constantly on the go and making noise. She threw herself into life and made the most of it – loudly. (Her brother coined a special nickname for her: “Mouthy.”) I have memories of her as a 15-month old, as I was trying to do school with the others, sitting in the middle of the kitchen table delightedly taking caps off markers and flinging them wildly in every direction. She didn’t need a spanking, just loving re-direction.

Life with a toddler doesn’t always flow smoothly, but neither does it need to be a constant battle of wills. Stop, pray, ask God for wisdom, try to put yourself in your child’s shoes, and then correct them. Realize that firmness doesn’t mean meanness. The creativity of God is available for the asking.
As a parent, don’t let your emotions go unbridled. Go to God first, get your emotions right, and then correct your child. Learn to distinguish childishness from disobedience. There is a difference. Don’t expect your toddler to act like an adult. Remember not to react as a toddler might, but ask God to guide your correction.
Potty training doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be a big deal. There comes a time in each toddler’s life when they’re ready, really ready, and if you can be patient and let it occur naturally, it won’t be a big deal. Society tends to put pressure on us to have our kids potty trained, and young moms will get together and compare notes on what age little Tommy and Susie were potty trained. My kids were late, compared to others, and each one was different from the next, but somewhere between two and four years old they were potty trained. I’ve found usually when children are trained early, it’s more mom being trained to run them to the potty every fifteen minutes than anything else. I didn’t have time or interest for that. Training my kids in God’s Word was a priority, not using the potty.
When interest came up, I’d show them how, and sometimes give small rewards for using the potty, but I never pressured them or shamed them when they had an accident. When they’re a little older, they can wait longer periods of time, and you won’t have the problem of having to stop at every public toilet in town. When they’re staying dry all night and interested in trying, then begin training, but if you find they’re just not catching on, big deal. It’s easier to change diapers than having accidents to clean up all over the house and car.
I never had much of a problem with bed wetters by waiting until they were a little older. Often, when a child feels pressure to use the potty and shame or disappointment at accidents, they’ll get over-cautious about it and focus on it too much and be afraid of failing. Let them be free to learn in God’s timing.
Just relax. If they have trouble with wetting the bed, use diapers just at night – it’s usually the deep sleepers that can’t wake up soon enough, but it will come. It’s no big deal. Don’t make them think it is.
At one point, I had three kids in diapers for a few months, but they all learn, and it’s just not important what age they are when physically and mentally it clicks and underpants can be bought. That’s often an incentive in itself. Also, younger kids will often want to wear big boy pants like big brother does!
Actually, the toddler stage is quite delightful. We get so many laughs and so many of our funny family stories from the toddler years. As you try to guide your toddler in right behavior, think how we must appear to God at times and learn from it. Hold those toddlers a lot. Learn what delights them and be a part of it. Take time to hold that toad, pick a flower, do a leaf rubbing, take a walk in the woods. Toddlers are delighted by their world. Capitalize on their interests and teach them truths about God. Start teaching them scripture. Read to them a lot. I remember reading one child’s book over eighteen times in one sitting to my firstborn. Say no to lesser things and spend time with your toddler. Let him know you delight in him and love being with him.
It has been said that much of a child’s character is formed by the time he reaches five years of age. Moses’ mother, during the time until she weaned him (about four or five years) had managed to build in him a love for God and sense of destiny for his life.
The toddler years are building-block years of training and teaching. Don’t let your time be squandered away.   


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Blogger Felicity said...

Thanks for reminders! I needed to read something like this!

July 15, 2011 at 2:58 AM  
Blogger Tori said...

"The main thing to remember is to deal with your children reasonably and with understanding, as you would want God to deal with you."

That sentence just hit me right where it hurts...too often I don't do this, when I'm rushed, stressed, in my get-it-done mode. I really appreciate you sharing the wisdom God has given you.

Thanks...have a blessed weekend!

July 15, 2011 at 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article today. I have four young children (all under age 7) and sometimes (many times) I forget to treat them the way I would want to be treated. I often forget they are entrusted to me for a short time from the Lord. Your family and wisdom are a true blessing to me and I appreciate very much your encouragement. I'm certain you don't receive enough thanks for your work!!

July 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Jolene said...

What a lovely reminder! I have 4 older children (9,8,6 and adopting a 4 yr old from China) and a little 16 month old. She is so sweet and you reminded me that her challenging behaviors are just growing pains at this stage of life. I chuckle now when she screams in the store...why be embarrassed its simply a stage in life that she'll outgrow quickly enough.

July 15, 2011 at 3:13 PM  
Anonymous christina said...

"The creativity of God is available for the asking." How true! Yet I so often forget. Thanks for the reminder. Visiting from WLW.

September 28, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

So many great points! Thanks for the reminder to put myself in their shoes. Their problems don't seem like big deals at times...and yet it IS a big deal to them. So dealing with them with understanding is so important.

September 30, 2011 at 8:05 PM  

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