Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

(or How To Parent a Toddler)

So. The Bug just turned 2. And she is soooooo 2 years old. A favourite phrase at the moment? 'I do.' Another one? 'Mine.' The final favourite communication tool? Stony silence in response from a request from one or both of the parental units.

And of course, although she is huge for her age-- 36" tall and 30 pounds-- I can still just pick her up and put her where I want her to be. But that ends badly. It also doesn't teach her much other than that the people in her life who are bigger than her will simply bend her to their will. This is not the lesson I want her to learn about the world.

So, like something I learned a long time ago about the techniques I learned in martial arts is this: just because I can do something, does not mean that I should. That is, even though I know how to properly punch someone in the throat, the occasions where that is appropriate are few and far between. As with Kung Fu, so with parenting. There are absolutely times when I need to pick her up and move her to where she needs to be. However, most of the time, no matter how crazy-making it is, I need to work with her to convince her to decide to cooperate of her own volition. Because I want her to learn that sometimes she has to do what she is asked to, even if she doesn't really want to.

So I spend a lot of time enforcing this... getting her to obey or cooperate, and enforcing consequences when she doesn't. This is, in fact, way more time consuming than just picking her up and making her do whatever it is that I've asked her to do.

But I think this will help her grow into the sort of adult I would like her to be.

And her independent streak? It will be a great quality when she's 14 and punches that boy in the throat for whatever it is he did that she didn't want him to.