Below is a question I’ve seen at least three times in the last week – but first take a minute and watch this hilarious (except for those ‘grumps’ taking it personally and demanding compliance) and very dramatic demonstration that will be familiar to any human being who has spent time with a child under 5 for any length of time:
Now here’s a variation of that question I mentioned…
“I need help! My 2 year old (insert your child’s age here… 3,4,5) just doesn’t listen to me. Each time I try to feed her, change her diaper, do an activity, get dressed…. I used to have patience and explain everything and take my time but now I have a newborn and am exhausted. My daughter has always been by my side. I talk to her about everything, give her as much freedom and independence as possible. She gets to go to 3-4 programs a week from art to music to dance. She just seems to be deliberately defiant. i need advice”
I’ll go out on a limb here and assume you recognize that at least some of the 2 year old’s current behavior is a result of coping with a new baby in the family. And you’d be on the right track… but if it wasn’t a new baby it would be something else new in their world. And keep in mind… when you’re dealing with a young child practically EVERYTHING is new (and not always welcome)!
A couple of thoughts I’d like to share…
First, I ‘overheard’ a comment urging a parent with this issue to try not to see their toddler as ‘deliberately defiant’. While I understand the person sharing this advice was sincere and well-meaning and quite possibly (probably?) knows a lot more than I do about ‘raising children’… I just have to tell you I think you should think twice about that.
Oh sure, your 2 year old doesn’t know how to spell ‘defiant’ and most certainly couldn’t verbally define the concept… but believe me, they can and ARE being deliberately defiant. So what? Is that necessarily a bad thing… or simply an inconvenient-for-you-in-the-moment thing? Think about it… maybe it’s good news.
Your child is human! Yes, even a two year old is a fully aware, capable person. Defiance is about resistance and challenge. And who among us doesn’t deliberately resist a multitude of things each day? Heck, non-resistance takes a level of mastery that most of us aren’t even considering, never the less actively working towards. So the question is, is your intention to raise a fully compliant little robot… or can you open up and give them the space to fully experience and experiment with being the very best human being they can be?
If it’s the latter then I invite you to remember that “teaching” doesn’t mean telling them how to do everything, “discipline” doesn’t me ‘punisher’ and “empathy” doesn’t mean ‘let’s have a reasonable intellectual discussion every time you act out’…
instead why not first, get clear about what you really need in the moment and why you think you need your child’s compliance… secondly, invite your child to make choices, then go within and see how they feel about the result and whether or not they would want to repeat their action, and third, stand in and speak the truth, be real and frank… they see through you anyway.
Maybe hanging this poster will help:
And when you find yourself so tightly wrapped that you simply can’t drop the frustration… drop everything and blow bubbles!