To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Time for the Toddlers Creed

I'm sure every mom is shaking her head in agreement as she reads this creed. Even if your children are grown, I'm sure you can remember dealing with this when they were toddlers. I don't believe any toddler is exempt from the "mine" phase. No child has to be taught to be selfish, it's naturally a part of all of us. 
For the past 9 or so years we have had a toddler in the house, sometimes 2, so this creed resonates truth to me because all of my kids at some point have been the poster child for this creed! And it is a most exhausting phase!

My personal belief, (and you are free to disagree and have an opinion of your own), is that just because this is characteristic of all toddlers does not mean it's okay behavior. This is the part that I find exhausting. It is so much easier to just appease a child and let them have what they want. The exhausting part is the training that is involved in getting your toddler to recognize the world does not revolve around him. Training is work...a lot of work. It's very easy to get tired and weary and want to give up. I'm am not going to tell you that I have never given in, never done what was easiest but it's not the norm.  The key is to not give up! Keep on keeping on because in the end it is so worth it. 
The more kids I have had the easier the training has become, not only because I have more experience but because there are so many more little people the toddler has to learn to share with. They get lots of practice. Now the "mine" phases are very short lived because they learn quickly that in a house with 6 kids, nothing is ever really "mine". When Noah was in this phase Owen was a little baby so I took the opportunity to train Noah to share before it became an issue. He had to learn to share with me. My kids are not allowed to say, "mine!" in that nasty toddler way. Even if the item is in fact theirs we teach them to say it belongs to them in a nice and gentle tone. The sooner you get a toddler out of the habit of saying "mine"
or taking toys away from another child, or to share the easier life will be. And I am not saying that my kids are perfect. Yes for the most part they share well and you will rarely see them rip a toy out of another child's hands...but that is because we are training them not to do those things. It is behavior that we do not make excuses for or feel is acceptable just because they are "toddlers". And when they do any of those things we address it right away, regardless of the situation or where we are. 
One tip I have that I feel has really helped with this is that I do allow my toddler one thing that they do not have to share. Each of my kids has an item that is special to them that they carry around and sleep with. For Will it's his corduroy bear, for Jena it's her tag blanket, etc. These items they are not required to share even when a friend is over. Knowing that they have one go-to thing during frustrating moments has really helped them accept sharing something they want when a sibling or friend had it first. Another little trick that is sort of a house rule here is when it comes to blocks we tell the older kids (I consider them "older" starting at age 4) to build a tower for the toddlers to knock down. We were having so many fights because the older kids wanted to build but the younger ones just wanted to know the drill. So we have said that while everyone is awake the older kids build things for the younger to knock down and then when the younger kids are in bed the older ones can build freely without fear of it being destroyed. This has worked very well for us and has taught our kids of varying ages to play well together. 
If you are a mom in the toddler phase for the first time I want to encourage you it does get better! And yes, there are things you can do to get them out of the "mine" phase and teach them to share, etc. And once you've conquered that you'll be nice and tired to face the next challenge...because if I've learned anything it's just when you think you've conquered everything, another mountain appears! Happy training!

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