Most important life lessons having a toddler teaches you
In many ways, the toddler years are some of the most challenging years for parents. Though it is true that toddlers can be difficult, there are many life lessons your toddler teaches you in many ways.
You wake up with someone’s foot in your face, and something wet in your hair. One of your other children is crying from far away, and… is something burning? Welcome to the toddler years! But don’t despair, there are wise life lessons your toddler teaches you – if you’re willing to learn.
In many ways, the toddler years are some of the most challenging years for parents. Though it’s true that toddlers can be difficult, there’s wisdom to be gained from your little one. So listen closely, there are many life lessons your toddler teaches.
Life lessons your toddler teaches you in many ways
Lesson #1: Toddlers don’t make sense. Life doesn’t either.
You’ve heard it before. Helpful mums, well-meaning friends, and perfect strangers have all probably told you: “Beware of the Terrible Twos.” Or the Terrible Threes. Or if you’re really unlucky, the Fearsome Fours.
According to parenting experts and health professionals, starting at around two years of age, your child will start to undergo a number of significant mental and physical changes.
“The terrible twos is a normal stage in which toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence,” according to Jay L. Hoecker M.D.
Toddlers aren’t helpless babies anymore. They’re stronger, and more mobile – yet they struggle with emotions, and they may find it hard to communicate complex ideas in words. So it’s no wonder that toddler behaviour is often illogical, unfair, moody, and seemingly custom-designed to make your life as miserable as possible.
But it’s nothing personal. Toddlers are just being, you know, toddlers. And knowing that toddlers don’t make sense is the start of winning your sanity back.
Lesson #2: Here’s the plan: there is no plan.
Okay, so your little angel won’t wear her new outfit to visit grandma. She’s on the floor in her My Little Pony PJ bottoms and one shoe, spinning like Linda Blair’s head in The Exorcist. It’s okay, mummy. Let the little Hitler win. These are the toddler years.
In the toddler years, you learn to live loose. Forget about scheduling playdates after your morning yoga/meditation, and high tea. Your toddler will have his own ideas. It’s time to pick up some life lessons your toddler teaches.
Ice cream for breakfast? Why not? Many choices during the toddler years will look something like this, and it’s up to you how to react to it.
You can deliver a sermon about a balanced diet which he won’t understand a word of, force him to eat a proper breakfast, and make him cry. Or you can sneak in a healthy meal after he’s gone to the playground and he’s hungry.
You can insist on sticking to the plan/schedule as detailed in your illustrated daily planner, or you can just roll with it.
“How do you make God laugh?” the old joke goes. “Make a plan.” As with God, the same goes for toddlers.
Lesson #3: Remember the mission.
It doesn’t matter how much food there is on the floor. It’s the food in their tummies that counts. Yes, nine times out of ten, entire spoonfuls of food end up on the floor. But if the food choo choo train reaches the station three times, count yourself a winner, mummy.
Life with a toddler is frustrating and oftentimes messy, but if you remember what you’re trying to do, the little disasters shouldn’t bother you or get you down.
Always remember the mission. You’re trying to keep your toddler alive. If he ate a chicken nugget and a glass of milk today, he’ll live. Mission accomplished. What’s important is that you try again tomorrow, and keep on trying. Your toddler will come around, in time.
Lesson #4: Sometimes the problem isn’t the problem.
A toddler may lash out, throw a tantrum, or hit, but it doesn’t always have something to do with the problem at hand. Oftentimes, not being able to communicate anger or frustration is the culprit. By the time your toddler learns a few more words or phrases, some of the worse behavior may sort itself out.
One of the life lessons your toddler teaches here is this: you don’t have to react to every single act of toddler terrorism. Remember you’re in this for the next eighteen years or so, so you can let your kid have his hate tantrum for a day (as long as it’s not every day).
Stay the course, and do what you always do: continue to help the kid learn words, sort out his emotions, and teach him to feed himself without making a mess. The rest will follow.
Lesson #5: Even if the toddler thinks he’s the boss, you’re always the parent.
You are smarter, wiser, bigger, and you have a higher EQ. You should be able to outwit and outsmart the little guy each and every time.
The parent — that’s you! — makes the tough calls. You say when it’s time to physically grab your toddler and go. Or let her cry it out. You decide when to ignore or discipline, give in or bribe. It’s your show. You’re in charge of the programme, and you know best.
Lesson #6: There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t worry, the toddler years will end. One day, the toddler will grow up a little, and you will have a preschooler – long, with sharp elbows, too heavy to carry for long, and talkative.
There are many life lessons your toddler teaches, but perhaps this is the one all parents should remember most.
One day, you will look back at those terrible years when you were locked in a messy, physical life and death struggle with a cute, pudgy little ball of anger and love.
And you will remember wiping away wet tears on fat cheeks, learning who your little one truly is and will become. In the process, you’ll also learn what kind of parent you are to your toddler, and learn who you are, together, bound by this struggle of wills, tears, and laughter too. Those years will come to an end, and you will miss them.