Every Monday, I get to spend the day taking care of my sweet 20 month old granddaughter. It is a delight. It's also an amazing, inspiring learning experience watching the ever evolving developmental process of a human being.
Toddlers get a bad rap.
Our society sees toddlers as early teenagers and equate their tantrums to adolescent rebellion. While the comparison on the surface looks similar, the truth below is much, much different. Toddlers are learning language and not having the words to communicate to us what they see, feel and need creates frustration. This frustration along with a body that can't do everything we can, leads at times, to complete meltdowns.
What we have here is a failure to communicate. And I'm not talking about talking, entirely.
Watching my granddaughter and my dog showed me that the biggest problem we have with toddlers are words. We talk to them and while they understand most of what we say, it's not enough for them. Why? (And the answer is not because they have a limited vocabulary.) The answer is we do.
Here are just a few examples. Meyer needed a diaper change, but I didn't know it. However, my dog, Jilly, knew and when Meyer didn't tell me, Jilly did. How? She looked at me, then Meyer, then me, put her nose in the air towards Meyer. When I didn't get it, Jilly used a soft growl to get my attention. She was right and by the way, she always is right.
Several times, I've watched Meyer tell me, Jilly needed to go outside. Jilly made no sound to alert me, but Meyer just knew. And Jilly knew that Meyer knew and Meyer knew that Jilly knew.
Meyer also always knows when mom or dad are on their way to pick her up. Again, I did not know or receive a call or text. Jilly also knows when my husband is leaving the office and she's right every time, too.
Knowing is built into us from birth. Unfortunately we are taught to forget.
We are born connected to this planet in hundreds of ways. We all know what we need. We can feel the pulse of the people around us well before we can crawl.
We also know who is a friend and who is a foe. Stranger Danger doesn't need to be taught because every being comes into this world equipped to know this. It is a basic survival tool. When our children reach toddlerhood, they are able to communicate who they trust and who they don't. When Meyer started to say, no to being held or picked up or kissed by anyone, it's a good thing. It's her next step in survival development.
My job, say yes to no.
By letting her choose how, when, who and what touches her, I am empowering her. I am giving her permission to take control of her own body, to trust herself to make choices for herself. This is what will keep her safe from all sorts of unsafe situations in her life. It may be awkward and socially embarrassing when she says no to a friend or relative who wants to hold her or kiss her or have her sit it their laps. But even as her Gram, she gets to choose to be held or kissed.
I support her choices. I encourage her inner knowing. We all have this and I truly believe it's always in our best interests to listen.
Gut instinct. Having a 'feeling' about something both good or bad. Trust it.
It's your inner knowing talking to you.