Gentle Parenting Ideas from a Toddler’s Perspective
This post is written for inclusion in the Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries. All week, April 26-30, we will be featuring essays about non-punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information.
(In a world where toddlers are able to speak and write in complete sentences, this post would not be necessary. In our world, however, parents of toddlers spend much of their time asking “what? what did you say? and what did you put in your mouth?!” in response to garbled sentences shrieked at decibels even dogs struggle to hear. At least, that’s what it’s like at our house. This post is what I imagine Kieran would say if he only had the skills.)
Dear Mama and Papa,
Yesterday was a pretty good day. I dug in the dirt (trampling only one of mama’s broccoli seedlings), played with a dandelion popper (whacking papa in the glasses but only scratching the lens a little bit), pooped on the back porch stairs (it was as big as my arm!), and played with friends on the swingset (I cried when the swing broke, but I’m hoping papa will fix that soon).
I was really proud of you guys, by the way.
*When I trampled mama’s seedling, she could have yelled. Instead she made up a new song that we sing in the garden together: “we walk in between the rows, in between the rows, in between the rows. When we’re in the garden we walk in between the rows.” It helps me remember not to walk where we planted the seeds.
*When I accidentally hit papa in the face with the dandelion popper, he could have made me feel bad and told me not to play with it anymore. Instead, he just showed me that the tip of it is sharp and asked me to be careful.
*When I pooped on the stairs, you could have said something that would have embarrassed me. Instead you talked to me about how it feels good to squat and poop, and we brainstormed ways I could squat and poop in the potty chair.
*When I cried after the swing broke, you could have hushed me and told me that “big boys don’t cry.” Instead mama held me and hugged me, then we talked about how we could fix the swing.
On the flip side of the good parent coin, there were some moments that left a lot to be desired. Maybe it’s because I tend to be more toddler-esque in some situations, but that really doesn’t excuse your behavior. You are the adults, you know. Plus when you get angry, your faces and voices scare me.
And when I am frightened of you, I just shut down. I can’t do whatever it is you are yelling at me to do, because I am scared of you. Please, mama and papa, don’t yell at me.
I have identified six problem areas: brushing teeth, getting in my car seat, eating, grocery shopping, getting a diaper change, and picking up toys.
In those six situations, I’ve noticed that you get stressed more easily and are more prone to raising your voices.
To help you parent me more gently at those frustrating moments, I thought of a few ideas you can try.
Gentle Parenting Ideas (A Toddler’s Perspective)
Please be patient with me on this one. You’d put up a fight if someone was ramming something in your mouth, too! Instead of turning it into a power struggle, try putting yourself in my shoes: let me brush your teeth too.
Getting Into My Car Seat
I know it’s frustrating when I want to play in the car and you’d like to leave – but you’re preventing me from playing when I’d really like to stay. We both have needs and desires! Perhaps you could build in a few minutes to our routine so I could play. Or make it a game: strap me into a spaceship and help me do a countdown as we pull out of the driveway!
Sometimes I get overwhelmed sitting in my booster seat when all I want to do is run around and celebrate the fact that papa is home from work. And sometimes I’m just not that hungry – I am learning about my body’s hunger cues, so it’s probably best not to force me to eat. It’s nice when I have the option of eating at other times, and grazing is a great way to keep me on an even keel all day.
For some reason you’re never happy when I put random things in the shopping cart. Instead of getting angry, maybe we could make it into a game: you can look and see which things don’t belong. We might have fun putting them away together at the end.
If that doesn’t sound good, you can always hand me the things that are supposed to go in the cart (or have me look for them if they are low enough) – I love to help!
Here is another situation where I feel helpless and out of control. To give me a little control, I’d love to run around naked for awhile before getting a fresh diaper. I also like it when I have a baby doll that I can change too.
Picking up Toys
Please remember that I haven’t internalized the value of having a clean play space yet. When you ask me to pick up toys, I’m much more likely to “help” if you make it into a game, otherwise I just don’t see the point. Maybe we could see who can put the most puzzle pieces in. I also like to throw things, so making “baskets” with my toys is always fun.
I appreciate all that you two are doing to parent me gently, I know that I can try your patience.
Stay tuned for more posts on these topics. I’m going to work on more ways to parent gently in these common problem areas. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA. In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.
Are you a Gentle Parent? Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!
Links will become available on the specified day of the Carnival.
Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline
- Gentle Discipline 101 at The Parent Vortex
- The Power of Praise (hint: it’s not what you think) at Mighty Marce
- Golden Rule Parenting at Novel Mama
Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy (coming Tuesday, April 27)
- Choosing Joy at Raising My Boychick
- Making It Fun – The Power of Play at Schmoopy Baby
- Assuming the Best Intentions at Hobo Mama
Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank (coming Wednesday, April 28)
- 50′s Childhood – Guest Poster, Connie at Baby Dust Diaries
- I Have The Urge To Spank But I Choose Not To at Breastfeeding Moms Unite
- Mistakes at Breastfeeding Momma
- Undermining General Beliefs about Corporal Punishment at Authentic Parenting
- Choosing Gentle Discipline at Hybrid Life
Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment (coming Thursday, April 29)
- A Tiny Word With a Powerful Impact at Little Green Blog
- Parenting a Toddler With Loving Guidance at Little Snowflakes
Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All (coming Friday, April 30)
- A Positive View on Tantrums at Edenwild
- The Terrible Two (and Two Parenting Strategies to Replace Them) a guest post by Code Name: Mama on Good Goog
- Gentle Parenting During Toddler Tantrums at Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense
- Gentle Parenting Ideas from a Toddler’s Perspective at Code Name: Mama
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