The number of times my two-year-old changes his mind on a daily basis is unbelievable. One day he likes his bath, the next day he screeches at the site of bubbles. One day he loves his new winter jacket, the next he refuses to put it on, even in 20 degree weather.
Now his food tastes are shifting. He used to love cheese. How can you not love cheese? These days every time I cut him up some cubes of cheddar and offer it to him, he looks at me like I’m serving him a plate of spiders. Sheesh. It’s sure hard to please a toddler.
On many days, our boy will change his mind in the same minute. Common discussions go like this: “Would you like water?” I ask. “Yes,” he replies. “Great, here’s your water. Do you want to take it?”
His answer? “No!”
Or he might say, “I️ want to go outside.” I reply, “Great, let’s put your shoes on.”
His answer? “No!”
The good news is that these mind swings, which usually turn into tantrums, are a normal part of development and last till about 3 years-old. I’m learning that toddlers 18-months to three-years-old are going through an internal battle as they struggle to develop more independence. Their indecisiveness isn’t something they can control, and in spite of what your aunts and mother might say, they are not being manipulative. I can’t tell you how many times I hear that.
According to early education expert and RIE educator Janet Lansbury here are some ways to cope:
Acknowledge your child’s feelings.
As crazy as their responses might sound, you want to join with your children and make sure they feel heard. You might say something like, “I understand you don’t like cheese anymore.” Or, “I hear you that you don’t want to put your shoes on now.” BTW this point works great with husband’s too. Sometimes all we need is to be heard to move on! Sometimes I actually start pretending like I’m having a tantrum with my boy and cry with him. This usually cracks him up and snaps him out of his rut.
Only give them a couple choices so they are not overwhelmed. Lord knows I have a hard time making a choice when too many options are involved, one can only imagine how a toddler must feel. You might ask them, “Do you want eggs or pancakes?” If they can’t make the decision just go ahead and decide for them without any drama.
Remember they live in the moment.
Even though they might want to go to the park, they live for this very moment and can’t think about what it would take to get to the park. Understanding they are like little buddhas who are always present, might make you feel better. Well, sort of little buddhas!
Raising a toddler can feel like comedy. As one friend recently reminded me, you will miss all these crazy moments one day. Like when they are teenagers and want nothing to do with you! And for a few some real laughs, you have to check out this video I just came across by the comedian about how people with kids just don’t know.