“Potty!” “Eat!” “No!” “Mine!” “Down!” “More!” “Milk!” “Juice!” These are the words I live by. The words my toddler speaks. The words must be followed. They are not suggestions, they are demands.
My toddler has discovered that his words, the words he can say, have power. They can make me do something or not do something. They can get him food, drink, toys.
I am so thankful he is learning so many words. So thankful I can understand what he wants and get it for him.
Now, I just need to teach him that you don’t always get what you want. *Not sure what song it is, maybe I made it up, but I can’t say that line without a melody.* (My husband informed me that it is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones.)
Yes, his words have power. Yes, it is great that he can tell me he needs to go potty. No, it will not get him out of his crib five times before nap or bedtime. No, he will not always get the drink he wants.
He is currently using his power for mostly good. He tells us when he has to potty, when he is hungry, when he is thirsty, and when he wants us to sit down. These are good things. He is even starting to put words together “Daddy, down.” Even better. I am so proud of him every time he makes a new combination of words.
I struggle with when to let him tell me what he wants and when to put my foot down. I want him to tell me he needs to use the potty, but saying it will not always get him out of the crib. When do I comply to him and when do I not? That is what I am trying to figure out.
I try and let him make as many choices as possible. Right now that is not many. I let him choose whether to sit or stand at the potty. Sometimes I let him choose what shirt he wants to wear. (One day he found his swim trunks and decided he wanted to wear them. Because we weren’t going anywhere I let him.) When I give him choices I only let him choose from acceptable options. Snack is his biggest time for choices. I let him choose his own snack from what we have. Every snack I have bought is an acceptable choice, so as long as he chooses something I am good with it.
I want him to know that what he says matters. I want him to continue to tell me what he needs. I want him to feel validated and respected. I want him to know he can always tell me what he wants.
But I can’t let him rule the world. I found out a long time ago that the world does not revolve around me. He will have to learn the same lesson. Some times I tell him no. Sometimes I insist on what I have chosen. Sometimes I lay down the law. But sometimes, I don’t.