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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 59: Pay Attention

This is another way to stop the repetition, repetition, tantrum sequence.

Problem: You have the same problem you had last week. Your child is talking your ear off, and it's all "I want this, I need that, mommy, mommy, mommy, mama, maaaammmmmma, do this now, do that now, you get it, get it for me." When did they get so bossy anyway? And who put the three year olds in charge? And you know that if you make a wrong step here, it's meltdown city. Toddlers have no priorities. They will die on any hill. Taking a DVD down from the shelf is as important as going to the beach. There is no reasoning with this. So, how  can you subvert the entire process and save everyone a headache?

Solution: Do you look at your child when you answer her? I mean really look at her? Squat down to her level if necessary. Make eye contact. Let the child know you not only "heard" her, but you really heard her. That the reason her request has been denied or pushed off until later is not lip-service, but a real thing with real consequences. I've noticed that if I'm not paying attention to myself, I can do the whole, "yeah, yeah, yeah, later, baby, later. Mommy is washing dishes now, blahblah" all without breaking from my task. That's a mite disrespectful, if you think about it. Just because they're only three feet tall and their desires are often ridiculous to us doesn't mean they're not important to them. Very important. They don't like being brushed off, just like no one else likes being brushed off. And they know what you won't brush off. A tantrum in the middle of the kitchen, that's what.

One of the best side effects of this looking at them in the face when they talk is the appreciation I can actually see in their eyes as I pay attention to them.  It validates them, and they deserve to be validated. If they feel as if you've at least heard what they have to say, they tend to be calmer about their demands. At least that's what we've found.


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  1. I agree 150%; all they really want is some eye-to-eye communication and thirty seconds of cuddle time. Now true, this doesn’t always work but as you said above-giving them lip service is so much less effective and it keeps the constant line of chatter at the front of their minds. I learned to squat flat-footed in the Islands decades ago and it has served me best in my dealings with kids-and that’s what I do for a living so the better WE get along the better for everyone in the end.

  2. I had to stop by and say hi! I love your blog - I'm a mother of 15 month old twin boys. I'm always looking to connect to other mothers of multiples. Glad I found you!!

  3. Nice to meet you! Twins is an interesting experience, for sure!

  4. I don't have twins but I totally agree that looking them in the eye and letting them know they were heard helps prevent tantrums. Thanks for linking up with us at Cup of Joe. Returning the follow.

  5. my daughter thinks she is the boss too, thanks for posting this. I can totally relate.

    btw, im your latest follower

  6. Such an AWESOME reminder! I have been not doing this :( Time to restart.



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