Menu

Your toddler is a bundle of joy, too—if you see him that way

Seeing your toddler’s behavior through the lens of positive intent can help them develop a positive self-concept.

Your toddler is a bundle of joy, too—if you see him that way

Ah, a newborn in your arms—so sweet, so precious, such little bundle of joy! Everyone gushes over babies. They're so innocent. Remember the first time you gazed into her eyes? Remember the first time your baby smiled, rolled over, and began to crawl, and the way your heart fluttered the first time she said, "mama" or "dada?" And the way you cheered him on as he took his first step.


Then, so quickly, too quickly, your baby becomes a toddler, and suddenly you're flooded with well-intentioned warnings, "Uh-oh! Watch out now!" and, "Look out! Here come the terrible twos!" In the span of a few short months on Earth, innocence gives way to trouble, but is that really the case?

FEATURED VIDEO

Somehow, it seems that the innocence has been lost—our children becoming almost adversaries. They’re manipulating us with their tantrums! They’re testing our authority! Careful, they're trying to run the house!

Isn’t it possible this common perception of toddlers and preschoolers skews the way we view their behavior from the get-go? Or, maybe all the labels we have pinned on young children, such as "brats," "terrible twos" and "tyrannical threes," have distorted our lens through which we view them.

What if it's all wrong? What if there is no manipulation? What if innocence is not lost?

In Dr. Becky Bailey's book, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (which I adore), there is an entire chapter on positive intent. Here is an excerpt from that chapter.

When you attribute negative intent to others, you subtly attack them. Your attempt to make them feel bad about themselves and their choices is a form of assault. You actually implant a feeling of danger in others every time you try to make them feel bad, wrong, or responsible for your upset, and this sense of being in danger usually creates conflict, as the other person becomes defensive, not cooperative. The conflict mounts if you proceed with your own agenda without inspiring the other person to cooperate. When you learn to attribute positive intent to other people, you possess a powerful skill. It is the skill you need to transform opposition into cooperation. 
Dr. Becky Bailey, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline

The majority of "problems" we have with our young children are due to us attributing a negative intent to their actions.

We perceive that they are manipulating us through tantrums. What if, instead, we perceive they are overwhelmed with emotions and need comforting?

We perceive that they are testing our authority. What if, instead, we perceive that they are attempting to get a need met in the only way they know how?

What if we perceive that they are developing autonomy instead of defying us?

What if we can let go of negative perceptions and stop attributing negative intentions on their behavior?

Dr. Bailey makes a very powerful point, “By attributing negative motives to him, you highlight character flaws that he, in turn, incorporates into his self-concept.”

Of course, we don't want our children to have a negative self-concept. We want them to believe they are caring, compassionate, accepted, and loved. We want them to have confidence. We want them to have a positive self-concept! How do we ensure that they do? By attributing positive intent to their actions. By providing care, compassion, acceptance, and love to them without conditions, just as we did when they were newborns.

Misbehavior in children is an attempt to communicate when all else has failed. Children have the drive to love other people and to be a contribution to the people around them. It is time for all children to be recognized as the magnificent people they are and accorded the dignity and respect that is due every human being. We must establish a new way of seeing children.
The Kids’ Project

Leave behind old perceptions. Change your lens. Look deep into the eyes of your two, four, eight, or 12-year old—those same eyes you gazed into that first day.

Look for the innocence. Look for the kindness. Look for the positives. If we choose to perceive them to be, then they will always be our bundles of Joy.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

Keep reading Show less
Life

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News