This past weekend almost did me in, girlfriend has been extremely sick since last Thursday, Natalia was just getting over her sickness, the dog is in heat… Felt like everything was all over the place. The biggest struggle though was Natalia not listening to anything I said.
Her: I want some Milk
Me: Sure, let me go pour you a glass of some.
Walking towards the fridge, Pours Milk and brings back over to her
Her: No, I don’t want Milk I want Water. (Cup of Milk pushed away)
Me: What’s wrong with the Milk?
Grabs the Cup of Milk and starts to walk away when….
Her: No!!! I want milk! No Water!
What is going on here? Is it because she is just a terrible two-year-old? No… Not at all. Come to find out, a big reason as to why kids from birth till three struggle with listening, is because their brains are developing at an exponential rate… I read that somewhere up to 700 new neural connection are made every second in your child’s brain… 700!! Not 1 or 2… BUT 700!!! No wonder it’s such a common struggle for parents trying to teach their toddlers to listen. Why a lot of their “arguments” are non-sensical or they will throw tantrums that are random.
A two-year-olds mind is not logical, and instead of using their logical brain to process things much of their behavior is driven by their emotional brain. Makes sense, when you consider their brain is literally evolving every second every day. How on earth could anyone process logic?!
So instead of asking questions, trying to ascertain as to WHY they are feeling the way they do… Try meeting them exactly where they are in THAT moment.
Natalia doesn’t know why she didn’t want the Milk anymore
She doesn’t know why instead She wanted Water
She can’t tell me what’s wrong with the Milk
All she is doing is expressing overwhelming impulsive thoughts that are going on inside her brain.
Don’t REACT to their demands, but instead, acknowledge them. Give them time to process their thoughts, could be a few seconds to a few minutes it doesn’t matter. Give them TIME. Not only will you save yourself a headache but you will also be able to draw up some boundaries.
For me, instead of immediately submitting to Natalia’s sudden demand for Water instead of Milk, I should respond by first acknowledging what she is thinking about and let her know my boundaries.
“Oh, you don’t want Milk? That’s Ok, but you can have this Milk now or have it later with a snack.”
A period later… I look over and she is gulping down her milk with a big smile on her face. So not only did I save myself a headache, but she eventually processed her own thoughts and drank the Milk she had originally asked for.
The hardest part is being consistent with this, many of us parents will be worn down, ready for a break etc. and will just submit to whatever our kids ask of us just, so we can have some quiet.
So, before you submit, take a deep breath and remember that they don’t understand why they are impulsively changing their mind at every turn. Give them some time to think about their choices and draw some boundaries in the interim.