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Listen to your Toddler’s Signs

Posted in Parenting
on August 22, 2016

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There are some days that feel overwhelming and feel like I have too much on my plate. These are usually the days when I have to stop myself, step back, and take a breath, not just for me, but for my toddler as well. I know she can feel my anxiety and stress, which effects her moods. These are days when I have to listen to my toddler’s signs.

It all started at dinner time.

I was busy trying to cook, do dishes, and entertain my toddler. I was a multi-tasking fiend! Or so I thought…. But it seemed like I wasn’t giving my toddler enough attention.

I had her set up in her “tower” at the counter. Her observation tower is wonderful. It allows her to safely reach the kitchen counter, with supervision, so she can help me cook, bake, or play in the water while I do dishes. Sometimes I set her up with a fun activity on the counter like playing with flour or coloring so that I can keep an eye on her close by. I love it and use it everyday!

(Side note, she is able to move it around the kitchen on her own so I have to be careful to make sure the stove isn’t on and sharp objects are out of grasp). You can find one of these great towers here.

So, I had her set up in her tower playing with some stuff, when I noticed she was starting to throw things.

A clear sign she needed attention.

My husband had a bag of his eye care stuff on the counter and she found that and started throwing the contents all over the floor.

With each new item she threw I asked her in a calm voice to not throw things. Then she would do it again, and I would go over to her and say, “Keep these things on the counter.” Then I’d go back to cooking.

Still she kept throwing things and I kept asking her, then telling her, to stop.

Then I heard a loud CRASH that made me jump out of my skin.

I looked over and a glass mason jar full of coins was shattered in a million pieces on the floor. I ran over to her first to make sure she was ok. Luckily she was in her tower so the glass didn’t get her. But, she looked guilty.

I told her in a very serious voice that that was not ok, and it was not safe, and I had asked her to stop throwing things. She looked upset and I felt bad for having to use that tone with her. Neither one of us were happy.

As I cleaned up the tiny shards of glass that spread from the kitchen, to the dining room, to the hallway, to the living room (Yup, they were everywhere!), I was upset. But, I realized I wasn’t upset at her, I was upset at myself.

I should’ve read the signs she was giving me. Toddlers are still learning how to communicate and sometimes they have to do that physically. She was clearly communicating with me and I missed her signs because I was too focused on the task of preparing dinner.

I reflected on what I could’ve done differently.

I should’ve removed her from the situation. I should have taken her away from things that she could throw. Then I could’ve set her up, through redirection (my best friend), with another activity.

If I had done that I would’ve spared both of us from having a negative experience, and saved me 30 minutes of cleaning up glass and scooping up a hundred coins with my bare hands out of glass shards. (That was NOT fun)

So, I took this as a lesson in patience and listening. Sometimes I need to stop being so focused on my task at hand and listen to what my toddler is telling me. She is intelligent and knows how to communicate her needs and I need to listen to her before another glass jar ends up smashed on the floor.

Has there been a time when you looked back and could’ve handled the situation differently? How does your toddler communicate with you?