Put a Bib on It

Toddlers and Self-Control

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I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone but raising toddlers is hard.

Ev has excellent verbal skills and I believe him to be advanced cognitively, as well. I would even say that his social development is further along than some other children his age, i.e. he likes to play with others. I have heard him ask other children to “play with me” and other children seem to like him (at least, they do when he isn’t biting or hitting them). All of this makes managing his lack of emotional development that much more difficult. Because he is at a higher level in other areas, I unconscientiously expect the same level all over.

Last night Ev and I were watching the moon. We saw the moon and stars as we were walking to the car, and Ev asked me questions while we kept an eye on it the whole way home. Where did the clouds go? Where is the moon going? Why can’t I see the stars anymore? When we got home the first thing Ev wanted to do was find the moon, so we walked through our backyard, up our drive way and all around trying to find it.

But it was past Ev’s bed time so I insisted we go inside and get ready for bed. Ev flipped out. He cried, kicked and screamed when I picked him up because he wanted to find the moon. I know that I should have given him warnings that it was about time to go in or I should have given him a choice (Do you want to walk in by yourself or do you want me to carry you?) But I didn’t. It’s hard to remember that it is perfectly typical for a tired 2-year-old to throw a temper tantrum when we were just having a conversation that’s not so typical.

Ev has a great memory. He repeats things I’ve said days and weeks after I’ve said them and recalls experiences all the time. However, he can’t remember rules, such as, don’t dump all your food out on the table. I realize that it is much less about remembering the rules and much more about a lack of self-control. It is just really hard to think about that in the moment. And it seems like Ev doesn’t listen. It’s really frustrating when we have to keep repeating ourselves for him to do something. I am thinking, “I know you understand what I am saying, why aren’t you responding the way I want you to?!”

As I am reflecting on this it dawns on me that we should be spending time teaching and showing Ev ways to self-regulate as much as we build other skills. But all the while, we need to keep in mind that Ev is only two, and our expectations should be appropriate for a 2-year-old (no matter how awesome he is).

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