I received an email from Babycenter.com today. The subject was “Your 2-Year-Old: The Asshole.” When I opened it, it asked “Wrong age?” Nope. You got it right Babycenter. Right on.
Some days, it feels like he won’t listen to anything, and I am trying to tame a wild horse. Toddlers are SO challenging. You may even say they can be little a-holes at times… Once, when I said this, an interesting analogy came up – kids are like hair. Wtf, right?
Let me explain. There are all different kinds of hair (read: kids). There’s beautiful, silky hair that always looks great all the way down to frizzy, mad scientist hair (potentially my toddler). Hair is affected by the various seasons (i.e. more frizz in humid summer and more static in winter) just as kids’ behavior is affected by different stages of development.
If you aren’t blessed with beautifully tame hair, you will have to put in more time and effort to make your locks behave. You see where I’m going here? Ah, right. The more challenging your child is, the more it will take to set him on the straight and narrow.
Now, here’s a bomb – bad kids aren’t born. They’re raised.
It’s SO important to differentiate bad behavior from a “bad” kid. If a child is constantly told how bad they are, they will believe it thus having no motivation to act “good,” which isn’t a pleasant scenario for parent or child. When correcting negative behavior, a nuance as small as “you’re making bad choices” versus “you’re bad” packs some heavy word power and can send a completely different message to a child. Don’t worry if you’ve been saying, “you’re being so bad.” Just start changing your word selection now. Make a habit of saying “bad choice” instead of just “bad.”
I was an unruly child. As a kid, I was told I was “bad” so many times that in adulthood, it took a therapist a year to convince me otherwise. Despite this experience, my sister still had to point out to me that I was making a “bad choice” of wording with my own tot. It was hard to hear that I was doing something “wrong,” but it was a great reminder that I should say, “that was not a good choice” instead of “you’re being bad” to my child.
When I feel guilty about making bad wording choices in the past, I try to remind myself of Oprah’s favorite saying, “When you know better, you do better.” Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve said “bad” to your child before. We all have. We also all know that toddlers can be challenging, and some are more difficult than others.
Despite the “asshole” stage, aka toddlerhood, it is our responsibility as parents to empower children to be good. This can be super challenging at trying times, and with a toddler, there can be many trying times. But, it is very important to praise kids for what they’re doing right in addition to correcting “bad choices.” It helps build esteem and helps point behavior in the appropriate direction – what you want to see instead of only pointing out the behavior you don’t want to see.
If your hair looked like you stuck your finger in a light socket, you wouldn’t just walk outside, go to work, and say, “ah fuck it, I have bad hair.” You would put in the time and effort required to tame that shit. Today, we have learned that hair and kids are totally the same thing. So…. make sure to put in the effort to tame that toddler with positive reinforcement and word power. It’ll be one less thing for their therapist to deal with when they are an adult