Toddler's Moods

I pick A at her school and get into the hire-cab. A cries saying 'I don't want this car seat, I don't want to sit on this seat'. She tries to place herself at the very edge so that she doesn't get a feel of that car seat, still crying. Then, she moves up, crying, 'I want to remove my shoes'. Then she makes herself comfortable on my lap and continues in a similar fashion for some time of our journey back home.

Upon reaching home, right when we need to get off the cab, she cries 'saying she wants to wear her slippers herself, she wants to move out of the car seat herself, she wants to get down the cab herself'. Slight touch of my hand on hers results in a screeching cry saying 'I will get down myself, don't help me'. All this while, the cab driver is busy looking at me and wondering when I would vacate his cab.

She is now off the cab, standing on the ground. Just after I arrange all the four bags I get to carry everyday and turn to take a step(just turned, didn't move yet), there comes the next cry 'Wait until I put on the belt of my slippers'. I stand there waiting for her. Next, she says, 'I want to remove the belt'. I say, OK and wait further. Next, she says 'I want to put on the belt' and this time, she pulls her pant little up. I ask her if she wants to put it down for which i get the reply 'No, the bow at the bottom of my pant is pricking me, I don't want this'. I am still standing there acknowledging whatever she says.

Just when I say, 'Come, let's go home', I hear another cry saying 'No, I don't want to move'.

After managing to get her until the entrance of my house, she steps inside and again cries 'Let's stand here, do not move'. I did what she said.

Another evening, she cries, 'I don't want to put on the belt of my shoes'. Walked for a while with the belt open and next moment, she suddenly breaks into tears saying 'I want to put on the belt'.

We reach the floor of our house and start walking from the elevator towards home. She runs towards the house while I am walking slowly. She then comes back crying towards the elevator saying 'she would count numbers and then start running'. I said 'OK' and started walking back towards her. By the time I reach her, she is again crying 'You should also stand at the elevator'. Just as I was explaining to her that I was walking towards it, she is already broken in tears and on the ground.

A needs to wash her hands and I ask her to follow me to the kitchen by gently patting on her shoulder. Next moment, she is on the ground saying, 'I will come to the kitchen myself, you should not hold me'.

After washing, she wipes her hand with towel and tries to hang it on the rod in a particular way. When she doesn't get it right, she doesn't want us to take the towel and put it properly. She shouldn't be disturbed in her attempts, else, it is crying on the floor that we need to face.

A needs to go potty and I pick up the step stool to put it for her to climb over. All I hear is her cry saying 'I will put it myself, you shouldn't get it'.

When walking along with A, she sometimes wants me to walk behind her, sometimes by her side and sometimes ahead of her while she says she wants to walk like a tortoise. Just as we start walking, as soon as I get a hint of her cry that was going to start, I immediately assess her mood and make a guess of how she wants me to walk along. I continue talking to her in a rhythmic, calm tone all along my trials of making the guess work. Talking soothingly and listening to your child even before the need is expressed(young children CANNOT express their needs yet) are the key things that work to make peace in the relation.

I am sure, every parent has a list of hundred such scenarios with young children and toddlers.

So, how do you handle them? How do you react? What do you speak at that moment when you know no reason for your child's cry? Do you yell? Do you get irritated? Do you ignore them? Do you reply 'OK, do whatever, I am leaving'?

Of course, each one of us is unique and would have different kinds of reaction, different mindsets to handle such cranky situations.

All I wish to share here is, 'watch your reaction'. If you are irritated, you get back irritation. If you are loving, you get back love. If you are willing to hear, you get back patience from your innocent child. If you are yelling, you get back an angry reaction from the child. If you are gentle, you get back peaceful reaction from the child.

Every action of the child, here called as an event, has a cause for it. But, when we look at that event alone, all we see is the doer who is the child and the action at that moment. If you go a little beyond that moment and analyse what thought pattern could have caused that action, I am sure you could trace and shortlist some possible reasons for your child's behaviour in that event. (Refer # 2 below)

The point is, we do not tend to think beyond what we see. We don't expand our horizon of imagination. We only focus on what is visible in front of our eyes at any given moment and assume that the event contains all the necessary details for our analysis - the doer, the act and the reason for that act. Next is, we draw conclusions based on this limited thinking and judge the event, judge our little children, giving them names and attributes such as stubborn, greedy, angry, short-tempered, moody, naughty, disobedient etc.

How did the child develop a behavioural pattern, in the first place? It is by observing the visible and invisible behavioural patterns of their immediate caretakers, the parents. Yes, some are visible to the child and some invisible, yet, the child has the ability to perceive them. For example, you are irritated and just when you wanted to yell, you don't yell trying to control it and think that the child didn't know your immediate reaction to her action. But, children understand everything right from when they are in mother's womb. Even newborns understand all what is going on around them, not necessarily conveyed in speech or showed in actions. Children have the spiritual power to feel the vibrations of their surrounding. Whatever is the vibration surrounding them, it is the same vibration that they pick up. Hence, the primary behavioural pattern of children is set based on the immediate family members. I could write on behavioural patterns more elaborately, but, the main intention of this post would be lost. Let me halt for now.

Coming back to our analysis of the 'event', where, we do not know the reason why the toddler is crying, why she is rolling on the floor, why she is singing happily at one moment and crying on the floor the next moment, what should be our reaction? The child herself doesn't know why she behaves that way, she doesn't know how her mind functions, she doesn't know how and why her body acts in a particular way. How can she answer the infinite questions that you get on her actions?

So, here are some points to remember:

  1. Their brain is not completely developed to tune their behaviour in public places.

  2. A child might have had a tiring day, just as an adult, and hence the irritation. Or, may be, the child was wanting some personal time with caregiver for which she kept waiting and hence, the sudden down pour of tears refusing all that is offered to her. Spending some quality time with young children is very important for their emotional development. Don't just focus on engaging her someway, try to have some quiet time talking about various things with your child. The child has to be emotionally content for her to develop a sound behaviour as she grows up. Another reason could be strong-will, having a strong will to do things on own. Best way to react to such children is to encourage them with a little guidance. You should appreciate the fact that the child is making an attempt to do things on her own. Do you want to discourage her by yelling 'See, I told you, you cannot do it, I would do, but you refuse to listen' or encourage her by teaching the right way to do it?

  3. A toddler cannot tell you 'Ma, I am very tired today, I want to rest'. She simply screams and gets irritated to whatever you offer. Hug her tight and talk to her soothingly, everything comes to peace.

  4. So, you had a hectic day and you expect your child would co-operate with you staying calm however hectic her day was? Leave alone how she handles her tiredness, she doesn't even know how to express her thoughts to you.

  5. Who should be calm? Who is expected to be cranky?

  6. Remember that your child is continuously learning from the way you react to her actions. Do you want to teach her a better way of handling the self or do you want to get irritated and make her further cranky?

  7. Whatever mood you are in, it is immediately transferred to your child. That is how the child learns from surrounding and develops her personality. If you are cheerful(despite your hectic day) and handle your child with patience, your child will get into peaceful terms with you. If you are irritated, start yelling at your child, your child will surely pick up the negative frequency and develop the same irritable mood.

  8. Before you react to any of your child's actions, question yourself 'What are you teaching your child with that reaction of yours?' and your reactions would surely move to the positive plane of energy.

  9. Most of adult behaviour stems from his/her early childhood experiences. When the child is emotionally content, learning peace from family members, he/she is sure growing up to an adult who can handle pain/violence in the world in a positive manner.

  10. To teach any child, techniques of staying calm, first, the parent has to learn to stay calm.

Hoping to see more of positive parenting in the view to raise a whole generation of kids who would have a better perspective of life.