Monday, November 5, 2012

Teaching a Toddler

It's funny to think that E is now technically a toddler rather than a baby. It's made me start thinking about some of the changes we'll be going through together over the next year and just what I'm going to do about them. For instance: today at baby group, one of the ladies who runs the group insisted that I ought to make E sit at the table during snack time (as well as whenever he eats at home) so that he learns that you should always be sitting nicely in order to eat. I don't, on principle, disagree with this, though it's difficult to stifle my gut reaction to bristle and get feisty and offended when someone suggests that I ought to be parenting my child differently.

Believe me, I'm under no illusions that I have all the answers. I'm 25 years old and in many ways still feel very much as if I'm only pretending to be a mature and responsible adult. Not to mention that I would definitely describe this first year of parenting with the Husband as "flying by the seat of our pants". But still, there's a certain amount of dignity and pride involved in choosing how to parent your child and in being able to feel vindicated in those choices. From breastfeeding to weaning to cloth versus disposable nappies to what songs you're willing to sing over and over again, there are tonnes of choices to be made about the kind of life you lead with your kid...and generally, there's plenty of latitude in how you make choices that are right for you and your baby

I understood and took Barb's point that limits are good and small children take well to routine. However, it's not as if he needs to be sat in front of a TV to behave himself during a meal. And when it came to snack time at play group, I'd long ago chosen which battle I was going to fight on that front: I wanted E to actually consent to eat some fruit more than I cared if he was sitting at the table when he did it. The first time I got him to eat bananas, I let him run to play, then come back to me when he wanted a bite: it worked a treat. Yes, now that his tolerance of grapes and bananas is established, I can work in the whole "sitting nicely at table" deal, but I don't think I'm going to insist on wrestling him into a chair just for two grudging nibbles of a banana and a bunch of grapes chucked on the floor.

So what sorts of goals do I want to set for us in the coming year? I do have a list.
1) Work on saying/signing "please" and "thank you". I need to be more consistent in pointing out to him when these words are required.
2) Teach E how to politely refuse things. I don't mean he has to write well-worded RSVP cards declining invites to parties, but I'd like to at least get him to turn down food without feeling the need to hurl it at the floor. Funnily enough, I think this will involve teaching him to say "no"...which he doesn't yet do.
3) Teach him to share. E's a sweet boy - he loves giving cuddles and hugs to other kids (as well as to Mummy & Daddy!) - but now that we've reach a year old, I think we can start correcting the way he grabs things from you if he wants them.
4) Cut down on the nighttime waking. I know he won't necessarily sleep 8 hours straight, but I want to start teaching him to get himself back to sleep more often in the night. I dread this one because I know it'll mean less sleep for me in the meantime.

One thing that is on my list, but with tonnes of caveats, is to start getting him ready to stop breastfeeding. I do love the time we have together when I feed him to sleep, or let him nurse to calm down after a particularly grievous injury or outrage, but I want my body back. Before we decide to have our next baby, I really need some time where my body is mine alone. I'm a cuddly touchy-feely sort of person, so I know precisely where E gets that particular trait from, but even I need my personal space...and I'd like to have a break somewhere before I realise I've spent a solid 3 years of my life breastfeeding my kids! That said, at 12 months, neither of us is quite ready to call it a day yet. I think I'll wait until I can seriously contemplate the idea of no more nursing without wanting to shed a few tears.

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