Call me crazy, but I do not believe in using negative language such as “Terrible Twos” or the “Terribler Threes” to describe toddlers. Whatever you send into the universe must come back. When you put a positive out, you will get a positive back. Equally, when you put negative out, you will get a negative back. It’s the Law of Attraction. So it seems to me when our toddlers are going through some challenges, if parents focus on positive behavior, we will get more positive behavior. What have we got to lose?
While reading the Danish Way of Parenting, I found out that the Danes call the toddler years the Boundary Stage. They believe that these are the years when the child is finding out what their boundaries are and constantly testing them. The parent’s job during these years is to set the boundaries and stick to them. This forms a strong foundation for behavior. Actually, it is a part of the toddler’s development. It does not have to be considered terrible.
On those challenging days when it is HARD to find the sunshine in the storm, we may need help finding the positive. I’m going to share 5 GREAT qualities of toddlers that have helped me to start to smooth off some of my rough edges. I’ve learned these qualities aren’t all easy to follow, but if you’re intentional about them, they make life BETTER!
5 Toddler Qualities Worthy of Imitating
1. Just Say No When You Want to Say No
The internet is saturated with articles on the reasons why Yes people should switch to being No people. If you look up the disadvantages of being a people pleaser, the Google Search Results are endless. One of the number one reasons is due to the fact that if you’re taking care of everyone else, it’s pretty hard to meet your own needs. There are no benefits or brownie points for being a sacrificial lamb for your friends or family.
With a toddler, you know where you stand at all times, and they have no problem saying, “NO!”, when that’s what they are feeling. Just stop for a moment and reflect on your week. What if you had said, “No”, every time you really wanted to? Would it have made a difference in your schedule and mood?
2. Stop to Smell the Roses
While doing research for my post, 10 Ways to Slow Down Time, over and over I came across experts suggesting that we live like our children when it comes to being present. In 6 Ways Children Live in the Present Moment, Vince Gowman says,
“While children move freely and fluidly, skipping on sidewalks, running to swings, bending over backwards, and doing endless cartwheels, we adults have become rigid… Our fears, and our need to be intelligent and rational, to plan our life, and be academic, have moved us progressively away from our hearts/bodies and into our minds/heads. We no longer twirl on sidewalks, but rather move like an arrow, straight ahead to our next destination (while planning the one after that!).”
Not only are they present in their embodiment, but they are present in their mindset. Since most things are new to them, they take the time to concentrate on whatever it is they are involved in at the moment instead of thinking about their To-Do List or whatever it is that distracts you.
There is no doubt this is an area adults have to be intentional about. Focus on the process and not so much the outcome of the here and now. Unrush. Unplug. Unbusy. And you will benefit.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “He who asks a question remains a fool for 5 minutes. He who does not ask remains a fool forever.” Our toddlers have no problem asking us, “Why?” “What does that mean?” “How come?”
If you don’t ask questions, you’re not going to find out what the answer is. Don’t be afraid of asking them, because people will appreciate your curiosity.
One quote that I hear in sales is, “Get your ask in gear!”, but this can be applied to our daily lives as well. If we just took the time to learn and to clear up misunderstandings, we would save ourselves time and miscommunications in the long run.
4. Pretend, Fantasize and Dream
On the podcasts that I listen to, self-improvement experts who try to help others find their purpose and set goals for themselves are constantly asking the questions, “What is it that you truly want? What do you dream of having? What do you value?” It has amazed me how hard it is for listeners to answer this question. Somewhere in the process of adulting, we quit allowing ourselves to dream.
Our toddlers, on the other hand, are great examples of what it is like to dream. If you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, how they want to live, where do they want to live, their answers show no shame in wanting. And the possibilities are endless as to what career path they plan to take. For some reason, most adults feel guilty to want more than they have.
Honestly, what happens to us? Let’s pray that our children never stop allowing themselves to fantasize and dream. When they do, they’re living in fear. That’s NOT what we want for them.
5. Love and Forgive Unconditionally
Toddlers are so quick to smother their loved ones in hugs and kisses. They cuddle and snuggle. They run to you when you come through the front door, and they welcome you home! They will share their lollipop with you and they want you to watch their every move because you are the center of their world.
When you mess up and tell them your sorry, they are usually pretty quick to accept your apology. Moreover, they are quick to act as if they accept it. I once asked Jock for forgiveness, and he answered, “Mom, I already forgave you before you even asked.” Well, melt my heart. I want to be like that when I grow up.
Enough said. We need to unreservedly present forgiveness and love to other humans. Just like our toddlers do to us.
Call to Action
All 5 of these characteristics of toddlers are available to us as adults if we are intentional about including them in our lives. I invite you to ban Terrible Twos and Terrible Threes from the ears of your toddler. Focus on their positive attributes and see what you get in return.
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