This past week I was reminded once again how challenging it is to parent one’s child when his/her behavior is bothersome to other adults. Granted this time around, our 2-year-old was actually our very special dog, Tootsie.
To know Tootsie is to love her, but to those who are not dog people, her energy and exuberance, her unexpected noisy greetings/warnings, her frequent desire to play, can create tension and unwelcome commotion.
So – how did I find myself reacting in this situation – when I could sense my guests’ dissatisfaction?
Like so many parents have told me they have done, I reacted instead of responding. I tried my hardest to control Tootsie’s behavior – becoming over-vigilant and forcing unrealistic expectations upon her – and me. I raised my voice too loud, put her in time-out, restricted her movement, tried to prove that I was in charge – all while watching everyone’s tensions heighten.
Until I realized something I already knew too well. I was holding Tootsie to a different set of expectations on that particular day, not because she should or could be held to them but because someone else was watching and disapproving of her actions.
So I took her for a walk, gave her some outside ball retrieving, a chewey to relax her when she came in and positive encouragement along the way.
Ah – much better.
For when a two-year-old is involved, even the canine kind, we don’t usually get to sit and relax the entire visit as others might – not if we are meeting the needs of our young charge.
As parents, we need to recognize and respect our children’s child-like behavior.
Two-year-olds are just that – two-year-olds. No matter how much we’d like to think we can maneuver their behavior differently, we can’t change what their development dictates. There will be temper tantrums, spilled juice, sticky hands, running feet – no matter how hard we try.
Because they’re two.
Of course, we can be pro-active when we know our children will be in a challenging situation for them. We can provide activity to tire them out, make sure they are well-rested, had a good nap and a tummy satisfied by eating healthy food on time as well as attention before they scream for it.
And then let the experience flow.
Parents with young children, own your lives! Bask in it.
By your consistent response to your children, no matter who else is watching, you will be doing your job. This is sure to be met, not with disapproval but admiration and understanding.
So when others wish your child would act their age – you can smile and know that he/she is.