Love and attention and cell phones
I'll never forget sitting at Fairway Cafe in New York early one Saturday morning. As I waited for my breakfast to arrive, I watched a sad scene play out at a table nearby. A Dad sat across from his about one-year-old son, cell phone in hand, intently focused on whatever compelling story or email or video he’d found there. I observed the boy look up at his Dad expectantly and each time he saw Dad still entranced by his device, the child put his head down. When their breakfast arrived, I was hopeful Dad would put down his phone, so he could connect with his son. Sadly, that didn't happen. Once he'd completed the task of setting out a placemat and carefully moving the dishes about so his son could feed himself, Dad dove back into his phone, only looking up to gather another forkful of food for himself. When [...]
Teach Children How to Say, “No!” Before Puberty
It’s essential that children learn and trust they have absolute agency over their bodies – no matter who is seeking their affection. Adults sometimes see one toddler hugging another and think, “Oh, isn’t that sweet!” but not all hugs are wanted, and no child should have to acquiesce to a hug, a kiss or a tickle they don’t want. We can’t expect an excited toddler to slow down long enough to observe that his friend doesn’t want a hug and we can’t expect his friend, who is just learning language, to be able to summon up, “No!” as they’re being exuberantly squeezed. There’s a tendency to diminish these kinds of experiences between young children to, “He’s just being cute” or “That’s how toddlers behave.” But when we don’t support the uncomfortable child in these situations, the unspoken message is, “Don’t make a big deal of it.” Adults rarely hesitate to set boundaries when [...]
Are you expecting too much of your toddler?
A parent recently asked me, ”How do I know if I’m expecting too much of my toddler?” My answer was, “If your toddler consistently fails to meet your expectations, she’s demonstrating that she’s not developmentally ready to meet them. In other words, you’re expecting too much. So, instead of expecting her to do what she can’t do – and feeling frustrated or angry with her, adjust your expectations and celebrate what she can do.” The same question kept reappearing, disguised in a variety of ways, as the mother asked: “But shouldn’t she be able to…” and “Why won’t she…?” I answered, “Because she can’t… yet.” We can’t expect a baby to sit up or stand before they’re developmentally ready and we can’t expect a toddler to be able to resist climbing when they have an impulse to climb or resist touching an object that's tempting but off-limits. No matter how much [...]