Monday, February 16, 2009


For some reason, I have been throwing up this morning which has triggered post-traumatic stress flashbacks to the stomach flu we had when the babeola was in daycare. That stomach flu gave me black eyes and bloodied my nose all 40+ times I threw up. Fortunately, I think today was a one-off type stomach flu.

Since, I'm finally over my cold, I was supposed to resume my workouts this week, but, due to throwing up, have postponed that for later and now have nothing to do. So I thought I'd tell you about a book I read recently.

The Emotional Life of the Toddler is a thoughtful and sensitive look at toddlers. It is not a prescriptive parenting guide, but rather an explanation. One that helped put me in the babeola's shoes. Seeing things from a different perspective is immensely helpful because it creates room for compassion and understanding to flourish instead of impatience and anger.

The important takeaways for me from this book were:

1. Toddlers are all about their bodies, what their bodies can do, what their bodies feel like, what their bodies produce (boogers and poop primarily as if you didn't know!) and learning to be separate from their parents. These are the two themes that drive almost everything they do and explains why I have to sing 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes' two billion times a day.  I also thought it was interesting that the coy runaway games toddlers play are really about reassuring themselves that mommy or daddy will always come and get them.

2.Potty training is under the toddler's control, not the parent's. The parent provides the opportunity and guidance, the toddler decides whether or not to take the parent up on the offer. In fact, potty training (or learning) is all about control and mastery...for the toddler, not the parent.

3.Factoids and nuggets of information like:

--Mild to moderate conflicts between parents and toddlers take place every three minutes. Major conflicts occur at the rate of three per hour. Conflict for 2-3-year-olds is double that of 4-5-year-olds. No wonder I'm so frazzled some days! I spend all my time arguing with a non-verbal tyrant.

--Separation anxiety becomes most acute at 18 months. It increases just as the toddler experiences the urge to leave their mother's side and explore the world. The momentum away from the mother calls for a psychological counterweight of equal magnitude, hence separation anxiety.  Mixed messages like this are common in the toddler years and signify developmental transitions.

The book gave me a lot of food for thought and has enabled me to empathize more strongly with the babeola. It has also prompted me to be sure and reassure her and not brush off her behavior as unimportant, but rather treat it as the vital communication it is.  I've also beeng trying to figure out what it means when the babeola brings over all her stuffed animals for me to hugs and kiss. She really seems to get a kick out of it and I'm not sure why that is. Maybe she's just studying/fascinated by affection?

If you click on the link you will be able to read a large chunk for free. Interesting stuff.


Jenners said...

Yuck! Hope the vomiting passes soon! And that you have to take care of the babeola and have the vomiting ... double yuck!

I think that book sounds great. It is so important for parents to be able to put themselves in their child's shoes (so to speak) and not try to react to them as you would to an adult. They are working so much stuff out and they don't react like big people. And the toilet training thing is right on the money -- you can only help, they will decide when to go.

I've been amazed how often this is the case with my son. He just decided he was ready to fall asleep without me in the room after 4 years. It has been about a week now and there has been no problems (aside from 3:00 am calls to "mommmy, please tuck me in.") and I'm amazed that he just up and did it. But I shouldn't be ... because it was the same way with potty training. Once they decide, it just happens.

Enjoy your little girl! It does seem to vanish so quickly! I love "revisiting" these times through your blog!

Midwest Mommy said...

Oh no! Just the thought of the stomach flu sends chills down my spine. I never want that thing coming back in this house ever again :-) Feel better.

Shannon said...

Thanks so much for this book recommendation. I am hoping my library has it!

Hopefully your stomach bug is gone now and you are feeling much better.