Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Toddler behaviour

As I've been watching Jack-Jack and Andy interacting over the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking quite a lot about toddler behaviour. There's no reasoning with them at this age, nor do they understand action and consequence, so there's no point in disciplining or any sort of punishment/reward system yet. Andy just about understands and responds to being told not to touch something, or not to do something (but not the reasons why, although I do point them out), but Jack-Jack just laughs and does it again.

From an adult perspective, there's a definite freedom in being a toddler. They have no concept of acting a certain way because of what others might think, and are even expected to think and act in a very selfish way. Sometimes as adults I'm sure we have days where we feel like screaming until someone brings us our dinner, or sitting down in the street when we've had enough of walking and waiting to be picked up.

It's also very frustrating for them - they have no real independence or autonomy. We decide when it's time for a nappy change, time to go out, where we're going, what they're going to eat (although not how much), what toys to have in the house, when it's bed time, what they can watch on tv etc. and they have very little say in the matter. They're both also pre-verbal although Andy has a few words, so have very limited ways of telling us if there's something they want or need, unless it's within pointing distance. They can express their outrage, and we encourage them to express their feelings by describing the emotion, but in our house we have a policy of "kicking and screaming gets you nowhere", so the louder they scream, the less likely they are to get their own way. This policy has had a lot of use over the past week and a half, as Andy is a screamer and Jack-Jack was starting to copy the behaviour thinking it would get him more attention or his own way. Nope!

Esmeralda and I have enjoyed watching the series of videos on youtube Conversations with my 2 year old, where a man reenacts real interactions he's had with his 2 year old daughter, where the child is played by a grown man. Every now and then I imagine interactions between Andy and Jack-Jack as though they were two adults, and yesterday it made me realise how much I'm expecting of Andy. Jack-Jack thinks Andy's amazing and wants to be precisely wherever he is all the time, playing with whatever he's playing with (or stealing it from him), drinking out of his beaker, eating out of his bowl and generally touching, poking, pinching, patting or laying on him constantly. Of course I keep them apart and engaged in their own activities as much as possible, and intervene if necessary, but I can't be right by their sides every minute. There is no way I would put up with that from another adult. I'm not sure I'd even last 5 minutes before I'd be politely asking them to back off, let alone cope with it all day!

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