It feels strange and wonderful to be chasing (walking and sometimes running) after my baby. At the library I work at our storytimes for 9-23 month olds is called “Little Movers,” which describes Calvin perfectly.
He is still my baby: still wants to be cuddled and nursed back to sleep in the middle of the night. When he wants me, he wants me RIGHT NOW, and has taken to hugging my legs, crying out, then biting my legs when I don’t pick him up fast enough. I’m teaching myself to think of him as my little toddler, not my baby, and encouraging his moments of independence. His happiest times are spent outside, walking/trotting around. People remark on how happy he is all the time; he smiles and chatters and laughs a lot. They’re getting to see him when he’s getting his way, enjoying the outdoors or exploring some place new. When he starts feeling cooped up in the house he becomes a little tyrant, wanting me or Kevin to always play, biting or whining til we cave. It’s not hard to give in to him, though it makes activities like preparing meals, writing emails (or blog posts..cough cough), doing the dishes or packing up for the day difficult.
I don’t have much to complain about though. Our days start at 5:30 or 6am and they’re packed full of play, walks, books, family dinners and cuddle sessions (and lest you think it’s all sunshine and roses: bites, whines, fighting naps and waking up at least once or twice a night). Kevin and I are enjoying evenings together, watching TV and reading parenting books together. We weren’t interested in our parenting styles for the first year or so because everything was about meeting Calvin’s needs and making sure he was happy and healthy. Now that he’s turning into a little HUMAN with opinions and frustrations we’re realizing that we have different styles and that some homework is in order.
This infographic came up while I was doing some research about parenting styles and it started a conversation between Kevin and I about how we parent. So far, we’ve agreed that we tend toward “Authoritative” which is: highly responsive, affectionate, assertive, and not restrictive with a reciprocal relationship that makes a child happy, successful, matured & confident (basically we’re amahzing parents). However, neither of us manage to sit in that sweet spot of parenting all of the time. Kevin sometimes draws from “Authoritarian”: strict, less responsive, demanding, less freedom with a more controlling relationship. I sometimes tend towards “Permissive”: indulgent, lenient, responsive, not demanding which can lead to a child feeling insecure, being demanding, self involved or aimless. Now, this infographic is obviously not an expert on child development, nor does it cite any sources or suggest any good books to read. Kevin and I used it solely as a starting point for a conversation and it was really lovely!
It inspired me to find a few books for us to read, starting with “Peaceful Parent, Happy Child” by Laura Markham. This book’s basic premise is that our children long to be in a good relationship with us; their moments of anger and acting out are often due to an inability to deal with their big emotions. By being present and empathetic we can help them process the big emotions and peacefully resolve those moments of acting out. We, as adults, have emotional triggers that cause us to get angry and yell at our children, Markham outlines ways to move past those moments of anger and choose to learn what is affecting your child emotionally in those frustrating moments where you just want to BLOW UP! Markham advocates for NO PUNISHMENT of any kind. The use of consequences in the Love and Logic method is too far for her. She recommends setting limits and teaching responsibility so that the child is learning from their actions. We haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet, so we’ll see if it’s a method that works well.
I have to admit, I’m very drawn to this book because it outlines a peaceful relationship with your child. Kevin is a bit more skeptical; he questions every big statement, wants to know sources/studies that back it up, and has a hard time imagining parenting without some form of discipline (love and logic’s idea of consequences works for him). However, we have appreciated the reminders on how to be patient and gentle with Calvin. He is starting to throw temper tantrums when he can’t figure out how to do something or when he makes a mistake/doesn’t get his way. We were kind of at a loss on how to dissuade him from doing that, but this book encourages us to be present and loving and support him as he moves past his frustration. He just needs to let out those emotions and he’s back to his happy self. Eventually he’ll learn how to deal with them in less emotionally volatile ways, but he’s only 16 months old! He’s just learning how to feel a variety of emotions! We’ll have to continue reading to see what kind of behavior guidelines Markham provides.
This summer has been a wonderful one. It’s incredible to watch our little boy grow into a toddler and dream about the family we’ll be growing into in the next few years. I’ve definitely slowed my blog posting schedule as I’ve been following this little mover around. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of posting more frequently so I can remember this beautiful stage of life!
What kind of parenting style do you think you gravitate towards sisters/friends? Do you have any books that have been helpful for you?
Love to you all,