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The Act Of Being Sorry & Toddlers

toddler behaviour www.archieandtherug.com
So when you get to my age and you look back it is hard to pinpoint exactly when you started to have a problem with something so you use a stock phrase to describe time, such as, for as long as I can remember. For the purposes of my memory and this post I have had a problem with the word sorry for as long as I can remember. I have heard people complain about those who are in their life who just don’t say sorry, “why does that word stick in their throat”, I hear. I reply, “are they sorry?”, if the answer is yes then that is more important. My problem with the word sorry is it is just that, a word, one that can roll off the tongue without any thought or contrition. My ex husband said the word sorry more than most, sometimes I would say what for or why and nine times out of ten he was stumped. Why say sorry if you don’t understand the reason? You see I have no problem with people using the word but it has to carry meaning, it is a weighty word, or at least it should be. What is the point of an alcoholic saying they are sorry if they have every intention of drinking again, pointless right?
Well we are all just winging it as humans and that is pretty much my parenting style, I am learning from my mistakes daily and sorry was my latest. All toddlers go through a shouting, hitting stage. It makes sense the world is their oyster yet it is filled with restrictions that they cannot fully comprehend. And we as parents often exacerbate the situation, we have this tiny baby that we can place where we choose, is fully dependent and we can meet their needs with ease. Then their needs are more complex and we kick against the change, some of us more than others. So toddlers are not necessarily being ‘naughty’ they are finding their way in the world and we should guide them. So I found myself explaining things; “I know you are angry because you don’t want to sit in the car seat but that is the safe seat for you and even though you are angry you shouldn’t hit mummy. Now say sorry”. I had similar conversations like this for a few weeks and then as the words ‘now say sorry’ left my lips I realised, oh this is why the word does not carry any weight. We spend our lives training adults to just say it, as that is what you do. Massive parent fail, I felt like such a muppet!
So what is the alternative? I am no expert and no one is really, even those who claim to be aren’t, people are far too complex a structure to specialize in. What I have started doing now is this; Sebastian asserts himself, I explain the situation, then I say that his action hurt me and made me sad. Then, for example if I was playing trains with him I stop and sit on the other side of the room. If he asks me to play I explain I am sad because he hurt me. So far this has had great results and he has time to contemplate his actions and make his own contrition. This is normally something that he might like such as bringing me soft toys to hug and saying there there. Sometimes he comes to kiss me better and has a hug. Then he feels open to talk about it. He is 2 and a bit so the vocabulary is limited; “Sebastian hit mummy, no hitting mummy, all better.”

I am much happier with this system and I think it is important to show your children good ways to behave, lead by example. If I want him to control his temper I need to do the same. Then I can say to him, we do not shout at each other, we to not hit each other. I may not be an expert but I worked in social care for over a decade and saw families break down often enough to know that ‘do as I say not as I do’ does not work, trust me.Your children have learned everything they know so far from mimicking, walking, talking, eating, facial expressions, so if you shout and hit they will see this as validation of their behaviour. Teaching your little one to work through strong emotions is to show him how you do it. It will not happen over night, give them a break they have had a pretty hectic 2 years. From birth until now it has been go go go, so much learn, so much to take in, it is an emotional time, so above all give them a break, life is tough, it takes practice.

toddler behavior www.archieandtherug.com

April 18, 2016