Toddler. So far that is not one of my favorite age groups. I think out of all age groups – this one is the hardest. Yes there are great times during this age progression. There are milestones that all kids pass and you think “Yay! My kid did it! He is so smart! She made to the next phase!” And at the same time you are patting yourself on the back and thinking – Man this parenting thing is easy. Or you’re thinking – thank God for my wonderful kid. Or you’re thinking – Man my kids is so cute – he looks just like his daddy. Things like that. But all of these wonderful happy thoughts don’t erase the fact that your kid is a toddler. They are a sponge. They hear and see everything.
Toddlers are that age where they are pushing your buttons (on purpose) to see the reaction they get. They are learning to lie. Learning to manipulate…and manipulate WELL. Learning how to mimic what they see and hear. And I am admitting that toddlers that are in day care or preschool are 20 times worse. And they are only worse because they have other influences that are out of your control. As a parent you want to shelter them from these bad habits. But they will learn it anyways – just at a different year in life. So you suck it up – send them to day care/school and wait for the parenting lectures and lessons that are about to take place. And those lessons…are for both parent and kid.
You teach them right from wrong. You teach them manners and respecting elders. You filter the language your toddler has learned. Then they go to day care/school and they learn the words you were purposefully withholding from your own daily language. You contemplate home schooling on a daily basis. But then you realize that they will hear that language no matter where they are educated. They could learn the F word from listening to people at the grocery store. (i.e. my son learned the F word from a guy in line at Costco)
You teach them that hitting is wrong. Not to bully other kids and to be nice to their friends. Then they come home and tell you that their friend hit them. You tell them to tell the teacher and to tell the friend not to hit because its not nice. And then it becomes a daily habit and you are now advising your kid to stand up for them selves. You tell them that if someone hits you then you hit them back. And you think to yourself….where is the teacher during all of this….oh yeah there is only one teacher per 12 toddlers….so she is probably over on the other side of the room with the kid that got bit.
It’s all a struggle (back and forth)…For them and for you. You teach they learn. You teach they unlearn. You purposely don’t teach something and they still learn it. Toddlers are a big sponge with some added personality on top of it. The soak in everything around them and they have their own personality to give it that extra umph. You teach them right from wrong. All the while….you are supposed to hold firm as the parent. Don’t falter from your stance as the grown up with authority. There will be days that you want to scream or yell or give up. And there will be A LOT of days where you give in and let them do what they want.
But as the parent to a toddler you have to go through these life lessons without fault of your own. Don’t crumble when they do the wrong thing. Hold in your tears and put on a fake smile. Hold your tongue…when really all you want to do is yell F***, S***, P***, M***** F*****!! Let them know they did some thing wrong. Punish them how you see fit at the time. Yell and scream. Calmly explain what they did wrong. Put them in time out. Send them to their room. Pop their hand. Tap that butt. Whatever!
But when all of these life lessons are going down…..you will be tested, your kids will be tested and the thing you need to always remember is…..they are kids are you are their parent. They will love you no matter what. They may be sad when they are being punished but they will forgive you minutes later. And you will forgive them too. They always find a way to melt your heart. They tell you they are sorry and they love you. They come and give you a hug. You play a game and they tell you that you’re their best friend….and then you are ready to do it all over again tomorrow. Because that’s what you do. You’re a parent. And they are your babies. Teach them how to be model citizens and then let society ruin them later.