Toddler: Feelings & Emotions
A is in that phase of toddlerhood where she is able to communicate fluently but right when she is stuck with something it doesn't strike to her that she needs to TALK about it, ASK what went wrong and then try to fix it (with help).
Yes, she speaks out all her wants and needs, but, what about feelings and emotions? No, they cannot yet put their feelings in words. It is not that they just cannot. The moment you realise that the child is not able to speak her feelings is when she is in the right stage to learn to speak out her feelings. Yes, she needs to learn, she learns from parents who hear her disturbed voice, she learns from the mother who understands her screeching cry, she learns from a patient observer of her behaviour.
It feels like she talks almost everything that the world contains but right when it comes to sharing her feelings, or conveying her mood swings, it's all down there where she may be just crying out ot showing her frustration in her tone to catch our attention and try to get some comfort from us.
So, are you teaching what has to be done, how the child can deal with various seemingly simple things that seem to go nowhere to her. Or, are you in turn getting frustrated and teaching just the disturbed feelings during those times of need?
Like, say the child has running nose, child may show irritation in tone while calling out for mother, or, child is drawing something that she wants to show to her mother while the mother is busy cooking, child is trying to open the door while it got stuck for which the child seems to scream out loud, I am sure there would be many more for which toddlers get to crying to vent out their feelings.
Remember one important point, every action of toddler depends on how the mother is reacting to her/his desire and talking always helps. Say, you are very busy in the kitchen so immersed in cooking that you don't pay heed to what your child is asking for and you yell 'not now, just wait'. This moment, the second right at that moment, the child feels some sort of emptiness in whatever she is doing and feeling. She wanted a person to share something and her desire was rejected. Imagine yourself in that situation, calling out for someone for which you receive the same yelling response. Would you stay calm? Would you want to talk to that person even more to understand what exactly went wrong and why the reaction was such? Would you want to ask him the reason for his violent reaction? Would you make him understand that he could have conveyed the same message little pleasantly? Answer is YOU WOULD.
Yes, most adults see children as just a child over whom they have a right to yell/scream to set things right and not as just another individual who should be respected every moment whatever is the phase of life the child is going through.
Talk to your child just as you would talk to another adult or even to yourself and see how much different your tone,voice and behaviour would be when you shift your mindset.
Not many days ago, A had a bow tied behind her dress. She wanted to see how the bow at her back exactly looked and tried to turn over to reach her sight just to that point where the bow was. Undoubtedly, she couldn't do it, she was not able to see the bow and she started to communicate her inability of seeing it in her behaviour and voice - restlessly looking this way, that way with some uhs and ahs. I heard her, I heard her communicate not in proper words but in her voice and body language. This is the most important means of communication with little kids. And, I took over the talking, as usual. 'A, you can't completely see your own back. See, I turn behind but I cannot see my back completely. Now, can you see my back?'. 'Yes, I can see your back'. 'True, and, I can see your back. But when I try to look at my back, I cannot do it completely. We can see all that is in front of us but not that which is behind us' and gave her some examples. She was convinced, got her answer, emotionally content with my reaction and now, yet another, happy child. All they want is our support in understanding things.
In another incident, on a routine morning when the school rush begins, she came right to me for her brush and bath time. In just 5 seconds, her mood changed, she doesn't want to brush her teeth, she only wants to bathe and play with water. All this - what she wants and what she doesn't want - how does the mother know all this? The child doesn't put all that in words, obviously. All that the child does is crying or saying no to everything you offer her. This is when you start questioning. Try not to focus on just getting the work done. Work will any way be done. do you want it to be completed with a pleasant atmosphere or do you want chaos? Choice is yours. Child behaves as per the adult's reaction. So, without losing a moment(remember, it is time to rush to school), you question your child. 'Let me know what you want to do. Give some options if available at that instant'. 'Bath, no brush (with moist eyes and dragging tone)'. 'OK. 3 or 4 mugs of water, then brush, then again water and only water. OK?' 'OK. (smiling) I want 3, 3 mugs of water'. 'OK, 1...2...3...next brush, right?'. 'Just another mug, it will make 4 mugs of water'. 'OK, the last mug and then brush?'. 'Yes, yes, 4'. 'OK, 4...and n-o-w b-r-u-s-h(in a rhythmic tone, not just ordering the child) and then back to water. yay!. 'Yes, brush. (opens her mouth)'. (brush complete'. 'Back to water and bath'. Child gets back to cheerful mood.
You see, it is not about the destination but the journey that keeps us going and cheerful. Your child will any way eat, sleep, brush, bath, get ready and do all that you want her to do. But it is the process that you choose to get it done is what that matters more.
When each one of us analyses any of the incidents that she/he might have faced with their own child, starts thinking if the reaction was apt, if the child's behaviour was satisfying or could have been better, knowing the change in their reaction that could cause the child to learn better behaviour and body language and modifies the parenting style, we can raise a whole generation of emotionally content and happy individuals who can contribute better to the society around us.