Choosing Battles

As the new month began, a different side of my son appeared.  For those of you that know Nick, you know he is a very happy child.  He doesn’t normally cry unless he’s hungry, wet, or in pain.  He’s pretty outgoing, and is always on the go.

Now that he is close to 21 months old, his personality has started to shine through.  First of all, he loves being in a routine.  As long as he stays in that routine, the day normally goes smoothly.  I’ve also noticed the older he gets, the more energy he has.  Like a typical boy, he loves to wrestle, jump, run, and bounce off things!  We have to keep his brain stimulated, or he gets bored and cranky.  He loves when Daddy gets home, so he can play rough and tumble with him.

There are many joys of being a mother to a toddler.  They are big helpers, pretty good eaters, sleep longer, and are starting to become more independent.  However, there can be some, shall we say, forks in the road towards happiness?  For instance, everyday Nick and I seem to disagree on what’s “best.”  He wants to play up the stairs…I don’t want him to slip and roll down them.  He wants to pull things off the counter…I feel that’s dangerous.  He doesn’t want to hold my hand.  He wants to pour his own milk…get the picture?  It can get frustrating when trying to get a toddler to understand your point of view.

On the other hand, I can sympathize with Nick.  The world is a big place, with so many shiny and colorful objects.  The most interesting things are totally hands-off (like sharp objects).  When he sees Mommy or Daddy with them, he wants them.  In his eyes, it’s completely unfair that he has boundaries and we don’t.  In addition, communicating at this age is so difficult.  How can he get through to us what he wants?  He’s very good at understanding what you say, but he has yet to communicate in full sentences (and when I say “full,” I mean 2-4 words).  So his response is to cry, which leads to frustration.  It’s at this moment when most parents ask themselves, “Should I fight this battle or give in?”

So far, the only way to respond to Nick is to be firm, yet loving.  We don’t give in to his tantrums, and we don’t let him make the rules.  If he doesn’t like something, tough.  But, I want him to know why he can’t do them, not because “I said so.” I know this phase will disappear and things will get better.  Until then, I just keep telling myself to give him his space to cool off, and offer him choices.  And above all, continue to love him and guide him through the rough journey we call life.

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