One -Year- Olds Know An Awful Lot.
“Small children have very little control over their lives, and the more powerless they feel, the more likely they are to make eating, getting dressed, going to the potty, etc. a battle of wills. Giving choices, engaging your child in making plans, and being flexible and responsive on a daily basis are good “proactive” parenting…”
Ever since I read this bit from L. R. Knost of Little Hearts Books, I’ve felt just a little less empty-handed when it comes to parenting a one-year old. Especially because, as Baby Girl neared the one-year mark, she showed increasing resistance to things like diaper changes and getting in the carseat.
Oh boy, the carseat.
She would start making angry fussy noises as soon as the car came into view, and then arch her back and flip her head back, scream, do anything possible to avoid getting strapped in.
We were at a little bit of a loss. Until this started, she had been the easiest car baby ever. Need a nap? Go for a drive. Wanna settle her down after a hectic day? Pop her in the car. Hubby and I need a date but don’t have a sitter? Strap that Peanut in her carseat, grab some Starbucks, and go for a long, “Driving Car Date.”
Then this. HATING the car, seemingly overnight!
But when I read this, especially that first sentence, something clicked:
“Small children have very little control over their lives…”
So the Hubby and I started slowing down. We would talk to her as we got ready to leave, giving her forewarning of each piece of going somewhere.
“We’re going to go put your shoes on now, okay? Look, Mommy’s shoes go on. Now your shoes go on.”
“Want to help me put your coat on? Arms in. Just like that! Good job.”
Then, as we approach the dreaded car….
“Baby, we’re going to go on a trip, now. So we’re going to put you in your carseat and buckle you in. Then Mommy and Daddy will be in the front seat, and we’ll drive drive drive, all the way to Grammy’s house…”
And Bam. It was pretty much a miracle.
The fussing stopped.
She started going in peacefully, smiling at us. Every now and again if she was tired or hungry or had some other issues going on, there would be a little protesting fuss, but none of the back arching and screaming.
We were in awe. We started talking to her about diaper changing time the same way.
“I’m going to lay you down on the bed now so we can change your stinky diaper! PEE EWW!!” Smiles.
Peaceful, quick diaper changing. No more tears. No more wrestling matches.
Now, the point of this isn’t “How We Fixed Our One-Year-Old.”
The point is:
Even at one, she’s a person. And she responds to being treated like one.
The more I remember that she understands so much more than she can say right now, the more I tell her what’s going on, let her at least understand what’s going to be happening to her, even if she can’t control it herself, per se….The more peaceful and happy our interactions are.
And what’s more, since we started talking things through with our one-year-old, she seems to have completely taken off with communication. She’s learning so many words so fast, answering questions and so clearly enjoying the fact that she’s a person…a person who is actually communicating with her two parent-people.
How have you interacted with very young toddlers and major resistance? I’d love to hear your stories and feedback!
P.s….Was reading some of the resources on the Peaceful Parent Institute’s website today and found this very appropriate and relevant advice on dealing with aggression in small children:
Touching and handling your child gently and sensitively. Touching and treating a child gently in your day to day activities of putting on their shoes, picking them up, restraining them in situations of danger, lifting them into their high-chair or car seat helps them learn to be gentle towards others. Even helping a child get dressed can lead to them feeling over-powered and result in them over-powering other children, as children naturally re-enact what they experience.
Advance warning. It also helps to prepare the child by explaining what you intend to do before and during normal activities; for instance “ok let’s go and change your nappy will we” giving them a minute to adjust, holding arms out and waiting for baby to come to you, this general approach increases their sense of having more power and decreases the fight flight response that often leads to the instinct to attack.
Good stuff, eh?