Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Editor's Note: Still have the laptop and still waiting for the shipping information for the repair. GRRRRR.

I made this Toddler Manifesto a while back when the babeola was still an infant. I found it on my computer today and had a good laugh. Oh the magical fantasies we weave, when first we practice to conceive (to butcher Shakespeare) before we know our child's personality or have any clue about what it takes to parent. Not that I don't think the manifesto isn't a good idea, but implementation is easier said than done.

One thing prospective and new parents need to keep in mind is that all parenting is conducted under conditions similar to those experienced by prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, namely sleep deprivation. If you are the kind of person who is perky and happy and thrilled to be alive even if you haven't slept in 3 days, well, congratulations! Your speed or meth use will make you a great parent. If you are grumpy and antisocial on 5 hours of sleep, you are going to be a sucky parent or start injecting caffeine via IV drip (or copy those perky people and use speed and meth) in an effort to overcome what I call 'sleep mood disorder'.

Guess which parent I am.

Hint: I drink coke zero and tea like they are the fountain of youth. (I also cleverly stage books around the crib so when she wakes up at dawn, she has something to do besides scream for me to come and get her. I like to think this buys me at least an extra ten minutes in bed.)

Further, the babeola is much more fiery than I anticipated. In my pre-parent fantasy world, she would, of course, realize that mommy was right and reasonable. (Are you laughing at me yet? You should be!) Instead she is stubborner than a mule, not to mention her momma.

Also at 21 months, she's not really ready to listen to me explain. Maybe at 3 the Toddler Manifesto will be effective. At 21 months? It has no impact.

So without further ado, here is a parenting plan that I might be able to use in a year or so, about two years after I wrote it.

THE (very ambitious and slightly impractical) TODDLER MANIFESTO


1.       Get down to their level and look them in the eye.

2.       Speak in toddler-ese, i.e. simple, direct statements that are repeated.

3.       Name the toddler’s emotion to help them identify their feelings and, if appropriate, offer a course of action to help them resolve their problems.

4.       Then explain your feelings and/or what needs to happen next.

5.       Always speak with respect, use please and thank you

6.       Ask toddler to repeat instructions back to you to ensure they are retaining what you’ve just said

7.       Use loving touch, i.e. hugs, cuddling, holding hands as you talk.

8.       Apologizing helps toddlers learn to apologize themselves.

9.       Ask questions and listen to the toddler’s answers.

10.   Involve toddlers in finding a solution to the problem.

11.   Offer guided and limited choices where you are happy with either one the toddler selects i.e. blueberries or banana, yellow or pink shirt

12.   Say YES as often as possible.

1.Mealtimes are family time. Everyone will sit at the table.

2. Food will be offered, not forced.

3.New foods have a ‘one bite and spit out If you don’t like it’ policy.

4.Toddlers are not expected to eat on an adult schedule. If they are hungry, we will feed them, even if it’s after a meal.

5. While we won’t cook special meals just for our toddler, we will make reasonable accommodations for their food preferences.


1.Use the communication skills outlined above.

2. Be sure to validate the toddler’s feelings.

3. Then defuse the situation by changing location or circumstance.

4.If a child is hit or bitten, shower attention on the wounded child and ignore the aggressor.

5.  If the cause of the tantrum is something that can be postponed (i.e. brushing teeth) drop it and try again later. Discuss the situation and the need to try again once the toddler is calm.

6. Take a break. Maybe everyone just needs a moment to themselves to read a book or do some other quiet activity. This is not a punishment and the toddler should agree to that it’s time to take a break and pick the place and activity they are going to do.

7. Don’t get angry, keep your cool so you can guide the toddler through the tantrum.


Robin said...

Hee hee hee. I didn't have a manifesto, but I did go around saying "What's the big deal? The baby will adapt to our lives, not the other way around." Sure, the baby will travel with us, and go to visit friends. She'll sit on a blanket while I garden, and Jim will take her to sound checks.

Little did I know that since the Advent of Sadie, no one has been able to eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner because I'm paranoid that the sound of the silverware drawer opening will wake her up. And don't even THINK about flushing the toilet. Either hold it til morning or go outside!

Ah, reading your post gave me great comfort. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Jenners said...

This is one great piece of comedy writing! Loved it! ; )

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