When I first became a father and my kids got to be toddlers there were a lot of mini – crisis type situations. You see as a new parent who was trying to be the best parent I could I began to ” anticipate ” their problems and began to comfort them for things they hadn’t even cried about yet.
many times looking back I think they must have wondered If I was I was in need of some comfort by my over reactions to their little bumps and bruises. You see most times that I jumped up and made a big thing of a little blood or a bump , my child raced over to me. I was more likely to go to them basically to alert them that they should be angry right now , perhaps some crying is in order…lol
I know it sounds crazy but I think we have all been there. Some just on ” first baby syndrome” ” but many act this way for the whole childhood.
Thankfully due to my career and education I was alerted that I was doing this all wrong. I also learned that the so-called ” concerned parent ” was not always an innocent party. Believe it or not there are parents that use their children as tools get sympathy and attention for themselves. The ones you see in Wal-Mart, dragging a kid by the wrist, screaming and yelling, and the mother or father is talking out loud at the child and neither of them are listening to each other. And nothing is getting accomplished.
Many times the adult chooses to keep it public rather than take it to the restroom , just to get that ” people are seeing me suffering ‘ rush. They are the ones who instead of whisking the child to a restroom or outdoors, just kind of smile and tilt their heads at other adults in the store, seemingly trying to make eye contact with someone who will feel sorry for them as the shrieks from the toddler reach glass breaking levels. That is more of a sickness like Munchausen syndrome, where mothers use their babies to draw attention to themselves by pretending they have many disorders and diseases that they do not.
For the purpose of this post I am speaking to non Munchausen moms or dads. People who just were not taught about how to stretch your child and make them as independent as possible.
Instead of meeting them at the point where they had clearly shown they were not capable of bouncing back on their own, I jumped in to the rescue and saved the day. I even noticed other parents who also had toddlers handling it differently , and kind of expecting their kids to sort through most of these tantrums or minor accidents without coddling.
How insensitive, I remembered thinking. He’s just a little rug rat, an ankle biter! What do you expect from him?
That question ” what do you expect from him ” actually became an anchor of sorts for me as I matured a bit. These parents were not neglecting their children . They were setting boundaries. They were teaching them how to be as independent as possible for their ages. They understood that the more coddling and intervention now, the more likely that you just bought a one way coddling ticket all the way through childhood and even into adulthood.
So I will give you one example that I think is universal and was critical in me figuring out how to respond. It is what I call the ” how should I act now ” stare. Now pay close attention because this is a very short window of time. This stare is when a child falls and bumps their head, or another child says something mean or steals their toy ..something along those lines…
It goes down pretty quick so you must be on guard. It is the 15-30 seconds or so RIGHT AFTER the fall, the comment, or the toy is taken. It’s a very temporary pause in your toddlers thought process where they are considering just how they should feel about what just happened. It consists of a slow head turn to locate you then a direct scan if you right to the bulls-eye, your eyes..it will be your eyes that determine how they respond. Your lips are next. How you look and what you say in 99% of cases will totally dictate your child’s response to the little crisis.
If you are guilty of being a wide-eyed loud mouthed run to your child parent you need you reset and fast. Or your child will be so dependent on other people at each little problem they have that they won’t have much chance of succeeding in anything they do..
If you know the child is not poisoned or at risk of losing a limb, you need to play it as down as much possible and respond as if they had asked for some kool-aide. My rule of thumb was to always do one unrelated task before going to their side to investigate. Such as say to your child “do you all need some help over there?” Alright honey let me finish this page in my book and I’ll come check it out.” Or if they run to you and you know it’s not extremely painful or life threatening, you tell them to sit down next to you until you finished.
One way to tell if you’re at the point of no return in this scenario is if you get what I call the ” open but silent mouth ” treatment …this is where they have you locked in on the eyeballs but maybe they are facing another direction but turned to look at you needing guidance on whether to let out a huge shriek, or just return to playing because your eyes say its OK.
Now if you are one of those moms who runs and shrieks and screams every time any little thing happens and you’ve already trained them to do the same. All hope is not lost…
But it does require a specialized behavioral plan for in home to reroute those behaviors and retrain your child’s brain and we do that here.
The important part to remember about this post is that to a great extent, you control how your child will respond to just about any circumstances . You train them how to respond by your actions and by how you model the reaction to the situation. If you find yourself in needing that dramatic flare and major league episode every time anything occurs with your toddler or child, it’s most likely that you are one looking for attention, not them.
There is no reason your child should not be able to bump their elbows and be bleeding from both arms and not calmly walk over to you and ask you to get a band-aid.
Everything depends on your reaction to the situation. Set your child up for success in this world. Long after your gone, nobody is going to jump in and be jrs. savior..