One huge thing I have learned in my year of mothering is that training your children is an ongoing process and I don’t believe you ever “arrive”. And with a first child – sometimes I feel like she is my little guinea pig! But God is a God of wisdom and the only way I have been able to figure out what to do is by turning to Him and saying, “I have NO idea what I’m doing! Lord, please help me!”
If you want to get a better idea of what my training of a one-year-old looks like, check out this post.
I had a moment recently that definitely brought me to my knees…
Since my sweet Heidi was about 2 months old I have been training her in some form or another. Word recognition, tone inflection, visual examples, and then beginning to lightly swat at 9 months of age. The progression had worked beautifully and I had full confidence that not only had my daughter learned respect for what I said but also that she would be much safer as she continued to explore her way through life.
Then something changed.
It was almost like she had become an entirely different toddler in a matter of a couple days!
She went from listening and responding to every instruction I gave to completely ignoring me! Or she would turn around and smile to let me know she had heard me – and then continue to do exactly what I had just said “no” to!
A couple days of that and I already had the thought going through my mind:
“It’s only been a few months and I’m already a complete failure as a parent!!!”
Learning what is normal
In general I don’t like to say that my child is “just going through a phase” because I believe it is very easy to use that as an excuse – for the parent or the child. It might be easier to say “just going through a phase” then to figure out what is causing the “phase” and training the child accordingly…but that phase will most likely not going anywhere until it is addressed.
So instead of saying that she is going through a phase, I would more accurately say that she has achieved a new level of maturity and needs to be reminded how to direct that desire for independence.
It seems as though about the time she has discovered a new physical milestone it gives her the confidence to try to strike out on her own in some form or fashion and I can see that she is testing the waters a bit. I’m pretty sure this happens with most children and will continue to happen until they are truly out on their own.
So instead of getting depressed and feeling like a failure I am learning to see it as another layer of training that, if handled with diligence, with help raise my daughter into the amazing woman I hope she will be!
Just asking a question
Just to reiterate, instead of thinking of it as going through a phase I believe it is more productive to say that she is older/wiser and is wanting to double-check that she still needs to do what Mommy says. I believe the first encourages sitting back and waiting for it to pass. The second requires action and diligence so that she remembers who the authority is.
Without fail, when she asks, “Mommy, do I still need to listen to what you say?” and I give an emphatic “Yes!”, she says, “OK Mommy!” and we go back to normal.
So remember, this too shall pass…IF you show the diligence and consistency to nip these testing grounds in the bud!
Have you ever conquered any of these testing grounds? What advice do you have to share?