Many parents tell me that in theory, they like to provide more freedom and exploration to their active toddlers, but when it comes to life, their automatic reaction is to intervene quickly.
When I see a toddler doing something that I am not sure about:
· Climbing the shelf
· Throwing a toy in the air
· Banging on the refrigerator door
· Pulling on the curtains
· Touching a house plant
My first instinct used to be to react immediately with the words “be careful” or “don’t do that”. When I started learning about the Educaring Approach, I learned to respond rather than react.
I created a new habit that is simple and works for me very well. Throughout my day I have many moments when I am unsure about what I should be doing: setting a limit or just letting the child explore. When a situation like this arrives, I name what I see with a natural tone of voice: “I see you are trying to climb up that shelf.”
What it does for me: while I am saying it out loud I have a minute to think about if it is a dangerous situation and I need to set a clear limit or I just need to move closer to observe more and let the child explore.
What it does for the child: when he hears this out loud, it helps him process better what’s going on. And maybe adjust what he is doing.
Overall it helps me say less empty “no’s” and “don’ts.” I save those for situations where I truly need them to set a limit. It supports the child’s cooperation because the child feels my trust and has more opportunities for freedom.
My mentor Deborah Carlisle Solomon said: “When your toddler has challenging behavior, respond with curiosity, kindness, and connection.”
Wishing you all the best in the difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!