Saturday, January 9, 2010

our toddler

Family photo taken in Nov. 09' by Thea Coughlin

Our dear, sweet Teddy has become a toddler. No if, ands, or buts about it. He's in a state of internal struggle with one arm clinging desperately to me and the other flailing wildly about, reaching for control over his world.

Over Christmas, he learned how to say "no." Now he uses the new vocabulary often. For example, I'll call out, "Teddy, it's dinner time." He'll call back, "No." I'll say, "Teddy let's go take a bath." He'll say, "No." You get the picture. The odd (and lovable) thing is the tone of his voice. It's not at all what you'd expect. The negative declarations squeak out quietly, ending in almost a whisper. He compliments them with big, wide puppy eyes framed by a raised eyebrows. Cute enough, right? After all, he's only 1 years-old and excited just to say new words. The thing is, despite the soft voice, he means business. When we insist that an activity be completed, despite his nix, he begins to cry and once in awhile will end in a full blown tantrum. Becoming less cute, right?

These outbursts are still pretty new to us. I began to see the first sign of them while in Minnesota last month. I chalked it up to the ear infection creating a sleep deprived, unhappy little snow angel. Now that we're home though, and the infection is gone, it's clear Mr. Theodore is just aching for more control in life. To be honest, I can appreciate that. It must be hard to have someone else make nearly every decision for you. After all he's intelligent, with likes and dislikes just like everybody else. Unfortunately he's still just a wee babe and incapable of making reasonable decisions. (Sorry, I know I'm stating the obvious....typing out loud ; ) So how do we find that harmonious balance of respect, authority, and love in our family?

My sweet husband only had to witness one such storm to kick start his solution-orientated mind. After the dust settled, I found him online frantically googling "toddler tantrums." He didn't have much luck so the next day I headed out to pick up Dr. Harvey Karp's, The Happiest Toddler on the Block. After some research of my own, I'd learned Karp's book was beloved by both parents and critics.

Well, that was earlier this week and so far I've read about half the book. I've found the material and research fascinating. Karp begins by educating parents on the mechanics of the toddler brain. He explains how immature it still is, struggling for language and logic, especially when it's upset. He goes on to give tips for communicating with anyone who's upset (toddlers included) and most notably reminds us to listen and repeat, rather than rush to distract and hush away their feelings.

So I'm anxious to finish the book. Although parts of it are clearly aimed at 3 and 4 year-olds, I've been able to put a few ideas into practice and I think we're seeing some positive results. I'll share more after I've utilized the strategies for a period of time.

Hope you are all having cozy, cuddly January days. We are in it. In the heart of winter. Over Christmas, I turned to my dad on a particularly frigid day and asked "Who lives like this? What sort of extremists exist in such conditions?" Although I love a snowy day, I hate the below zero stuff. It makes my bones ache and my mind numb. Today I'm dreaming about the hot, heavy days of summer.


  1. I am glad you had a baby first so I have someone to talk to once I experience these issues. I think if Teddy lived with me I would let him do whatever his little heart desired because I can't resist his cuteness.

  2. I echo Kel's statement - I'm glad both of you will be experiencing parenthood before me...I can't wait to learn from you.

    On a different note, after being home in MN for xmas, I think I've decided that I don't want to live in MN. It's just too cold, almost to the point where in immobilizes you (and you're talking to the girl who still runs outside in this weather!) Maybe I'm too used to Seattle's winters - 40 and rainy!