A dad was telling me a humorous story about his two-and-a-half-year-old son. When this little guy’s mom picked him up and told him “it’s time to use the potty”, he spoke firmly into his mom’s ear “no potty” and then turned her head and repeated his declaration “no potty” in her other ear – just in case he hadn’t made himself perfectly clear.
The strong universal “NO’ that a toddler can project can reverberate throughout a room.. This dad recognized and appreciated what he knew to be his son exercising his developing ” assertiveness muscles”.
And just as we are thrilled with our children’s first smiles, first steps, and first words, these shows of independent thought, determination, and ownership are also to be understood and celebrated.
We can choose to react with a matching response which often intensifies the exchange between us – or we can just hear our child, acknowledge we hear him, but …we need to carry on anyway.
Except when we don’t.
And that’s the time when it works – the times when we are able to offer our yeses – when we can offer the space for independence and growth to take place. Yes to help with the dishes – yes to baking, yes to dressing, yes to putting away the groceries, or washing the car – whatever it is that these focused little spirits want and need to do and we can say yes to – in their continuing exploration of the world around them – as they find their own place in it.
As parents, we can understand their striving, provide for it whenever possible, and love them for it.
Enjoy the ride!