It’s hard being little, but sometimes it is harder being big. Fewer people look out for you and remind you of the important things in life. Recently, I began thinking about the toddler lessons we work on so carefully with our young children but either forget or don’t bother using ourselves. Here are six toddler lessons all adults can use a refresher course on themselves from time to time.
Toddler Lesson 1: Use your words.
So often when our little one grunts or stomps feet, we respond with: Use your words. Such great advice! However, how many times in our lives do we have conflict because we expect someone to read our minds or we let something go to the point where emotions take over? We expect our partner or spouse to just “know” what needs to be done around the house instead of using our words. We expect our loved ones and friends to just “know” they are important to us instead of using words. We use cold shoulders and silence to show displeasure instead of using words to explain why we are hurt or upset. A gentle word could resolve many situations more quickly and effectively.
Toddler Lesson 2: Play nicely with others.
We are so careful to make sure our littles share and are gentle. We teach them to use polite words. We teach inclusion. Yet, we often see our adult peers as competition. When a conflict arises, we fail to use kind words to resolve it. We share less and confront more. Society operates as “watch out for #1” instead of “play nicely with others.” Maybe if we play nicely with others, they will play nicely with us.
Toddler Lesson 3: Celebrate the little things.
When our children are toddlers, we celebrate everything. Yay! First steps! Yay! First words! Yay! You went on the potty! Yay! There’s a bird in the yard! You name it, we celebrate it. In a way, this is a lesson in gratitude. Celebrate the little things. Be grateful for the little things. It is easy to get caught up in the grind of day to day, in the negativity of the news, the uphill battle of adversity. Celebrate a good cup of coffee, the noise of happy children, the sound of rain on the windows, the kindness of a stranger. Be grateful for something every day. Celebrate something little every day.
Toddler Lesson 4: Quiet time.
I know that quiet time is as much for us as moms as it is for our toddlers, but why do we stop needing that down time just because our toddlers got older? Let’s face it. Life gets more complicated as kids grow. I think I need quiet time more now than I did when they were little. Sometimes, I just need a nap. Down time refreshes me, helps me focus, let’s me reflect on things to celebrate. (See what I did there?) Yes, I used to feel guilty taking time for myself, and I am sure you do, too. Then a severe illness knocked me on my butt, and now no more guilt. Quiet time and naps make me better for my family and keep me healthier.
Toddler Lesson 5: Do your best!
How often do we say this to our kids? We are gracious with their effort. We encourage them to keep trying. We recognize their enthusiasm, even when the result is unexpected. We cut them some slack. When was the last time you cut yourself some slack? We cannot do more than our best. If this is the best you can do today and someone said it wasn’t enough, so be it. Try again another day, but don’t beat yourself up. We don’t rail on our kids the way we do ourselves. Be gracious with yourself. Be gracious with others.
Toddler Lesson 6: Be Kind.
This is so important and makes life easier. Be kind. Gentle words before harsh ones. Sharing before selfishness. Smiles before frowns. A door held open, an unexpected compliment. When someone else is kind to me, my whole day changes. I want to pay it forward. I want to emulate the kindness shown. We want kind children. We use books and lessons to help our littlest ones know kindness. Let’s not forget: modeling it as adults is the best way to teach it, especially when we don’t think anyone is watching.