This morning I woke up to the sounds of a babbling toddler. I went into his room to go get him since he doesn't yet know how to open the door. And there on the floor was poop. On his bed was more poop, pee, and a diaper. He was wearing just his pj t-shirt and happy. I guess his quest to remove his diaper is back in high gear. After Hubby and I dealt with the mess, I knew that I would need to make a trip to buy him that back up mattress cover and sheet. So after the morning dragged on, we got into the car and away we went.
I love this parenting book I'm reading called Positive Discipline: The First Three Years. While I have my objections to a few things, which I will explain when I review it, some of the stuff is really informative. I had a hit-my-own-forehead-duh-why-didn't-I-think-of-that moment when I read about how to make a trip to a new place smoother. She said that for verbal children you can tell them a story of pretending about what you will do. They will answer questions that you prompt them with. For pre-verbal children (which is essentially where HB is) you can tell them what's going to have ahead of time and what you expect them to do. Sort of warning them.
So before we went outside, I told him that we were going on the trip. He knows what that means so he immediately shut off the tv and got all excited and danced around where we keep the car keys. I explained to him step by step about how we were going to get into the car including the part about sitting in the car seat. It worked. We got to the store parking lot and I told him that he was going in the cart. This didn't work so well as he wanted to explore the store so a compromise was made and he was allowed to stand in the cart while we picked out sheets.
You get the idea of things. The other part I enjoyed was the personality section. Some of a child's personality is based on genetics. They just naturally are easier to handle in public and will sit still for long periods of time. Some of it is environment meaning how their treated and what their exposed to. She did say that sometimes it's just the child. For example identical twins have the same genetic markers yet have completely different personalities. You would think it was the mom or dad, but they have the same two parents. So how do you explain why one twin is more patient than the other? It's just them. Knowing that your child isn't bad because they can't sit still or not touch things helps put things in perspective.
I also read the portion about distractablility. HB does not get distracted very easily when it comes to electronics.
The thing she didn't talk about, but I've noticed with people in general is comfort level. My mother used to say that other parents would say that I was a total angel, but at home I was horrible. (Although that could have something to do with not getting along with my mom.)
As an adult, I would say that I'm socially inept. I have a hard time making friends and relating to people largely because I'm not sure how much of myself I should give away. Am I being to opinionated? Am I talking too much? What do I say to this person? How do we relate to each other? Do we have anything in common? I find it's easier to make friends with men because men tend to forgive social awkwardness because a lot of them have the same problem. Unfortunately there aren't very many stay-at-home dads and people tend to get suspicious when a married women befriends one over befriending other females. So I have to be socially awkward. Although I've run into the same lady twice who seemed comfortable introducing herself to me, Mrs. Socially Awkward, so maybe I'll be making a friend soon. I met her at Mass and then ran into her at the library. Her daughter is a little older than HB who initiated the contact (yes, I'm making friends through my child but that's how playgroups work right?). Anyway, I act differently around people I know then I do around strangers, and it shows. Many of my friends thought that I was initially shy, but later learned that I didn't talk because I didn't know what to say.
Okay, digressing. My point is that children also behave different in situations they are more comfortable with and around people they feel comfortable with. I took HB to baby story time and he instantly became Mr. Clingy. My normally exploratory child mostly sat on my lap. He didn't really pay attention to anything that was going on. But once I get him alone, he fights me to go home because there's a computer and he wants to play with it. The book doesn't talk about this, but it also factors into child behavior. Some children will be more prone to let their feelings shine (tantrums, exploration, rough play, etc) when they are around their parents. They feel safe enough to try new things and make mistakes.
Unless of course they are shamed into believing that their otherwise normal behavior is wrong or bad. You can tell when a child is experiencing abuse at home based on how they behave with their parents. Often times the child withdraws and becomes ultra clingy trying to both please the parent and not get hurt. People mistake this as being something else, but for young children especially those who normally behave differently at daycare, if they behave this way, it's a bad sign. There are other indicators too so I wouldn't necessarily jump to conclusions that it's abuse. Sometimes children behave that way for other reasons. It's just a red flag that I always look for because it's indicative of verbal and sexual abuse. Physical abuse in young children is easier to spot.
So what does this have to do with anything? Knowing your child and their temperament makes life a lot easier. Toddler don't do well with long trips. If you can avoid taking your toddler, do so. But if you can't avoid it, prepare yourself and them ahead of time. It really makes all the difference. Knowing what they typically do or like and knowing that they want responsibility and a longer leash helps.