Sometimes, it seems like toddlers go out of their way to be annoying. I think even the best of mothers will at times find themselves irritated by their toddler’s antics.
The other day, I was at my grandmother’s house, in the middle of an intense, heated discussion.
My toddler came over to me and started saying “Mommy, Mommy!”
He had been upset when my husband had walked out half an hour earlier, and now he was hovering near the door. But he took a break to come interrupt my very important discussion.
“Mommy, Mommy!” he continued urgently, putting his face directly in front of mine, and pulling my chin in his direction.
“What, sweetie?” I finally responded, in a somewhat impatient voice.
“Daddy!” he said.
“Yes, sweetie. Daddy will be home soon,” I responded and right away went back to my conversation.
He ran back to the door, seemingly to see if Daddy was indeed going to be home soon (because to toddlers soon means right now.)
He came back and the scene repeated itself.
Fifteen minutes later, we found out that Daddy had been trying to get in for a while already, knocking at the door, banging in the freezing cold, and my little angel was trying to “save” him.
My toddler was being annoying. My toddler was interrupting my discussion. Because my toddler was on a mission to helps his father get in the front door. Pretty reasonable of him, if you ask me. Well, if you ask anyone…
This was a real eye-opener. It made me understand, that even in those most annoying moments, my toddler might have something of real value to say. And even if he didn’t, shouldn’t I make him feel that what he has to say is valuable?
Yes, toddlers can be annoying.
They’ll make you turn the music on and off, ten times within ten seconds.
They’ll tug on your shirt while you just want to get those dishes packed away, or dinner on the table.
Speaking of dinner, they’ll tell you an exact menu and when you finally have it prepared, change their minds completely.
We all have a moment in our loving journey of parenting that toddler when we think, but don’t dare to say “stop being so annoying!”
The story above gave me a jolt. It reminded me of a critical fact that is hard to remember when we go about our daily routine of toddlerhood.
Toddlers have needs. And toddlers have yet to learn how to communicate those needs.
Toddlers have their own way about things. They have instincts for survival – both theirs and Daddy’s, of course – and they will act on it.
One of those instincts, that is often hard to recognize, is to DEMAND our love and attention. Mothers are pulled in so many directions these days. We are often required to fill in on, or even provide a full-time income. Many of us are simultaneously the primary child care providers, housekeepers, cooks, and captains of our slightly chaotic ships.
But our toddlers need more than food, drink, and air to breathe.
They need love.
They need attention.
They need to know that Mommy is there, even when she is cooking, cleaning, eating, and breathing.
They need to know that, and their survival instincts will put them into full-on “annoying mode” to get them that love and attention they so crave.
Wait – I promised you something in the title of this article, didn’t I?
I told you I’ll teach you how to stop your toddler from being annoying, and I don’t believe I’ve done that yet.
How to stop your toddler from being annoying with a 3 step plan:
I love 3-step plans because they’re doable and easy to implement.
Here’s one that’s doable, but I doubt I’d call it easy.
Because good things come to those who work hard for it. It’s a labor of love, one that I welcome, and it ain’t easy, but it’s necessary:
Step 1 – Actually listen: In the story above, I wasn’t fully in-tune to my child’s needs. I was half-listening, and “getting it over with” so that I can continue my own important conversation – a conversation that by the end of the story seemed pretty silly.
Sometimes our children are actually telling us something, though due to their under-developed communication skills, we’d need to be creative to understand. We might not always be able to understand which will lead me on to the next steps.
Step 2 – Solve the problem: Obviously, when it’s easy to solve we should solve it.
But what about when we can’t figure out what they actually want?
I’m slowly learning to default to love.
If he’s nagging, pushing, and pulling, I assume he wants ME. I put my ego into full gear for the benefit of better parenting, I remind myself that I AM the center of his world and I pull out all the love of those first few minutes after I met him to help me be a better parent.
There’s no denying it’s a challenge. But, once again, it’s a labor of love.
Step 3 – Change the attitude: The title of this article is a bit provocative, I know. I did that on-purpose.
I think that “annoying” describes toddlerhood, and we almost don’t think about how the practical application of that perspective can affect our parenting.
I think that “needy” might be a better way of looking at it.
Toddlers aren’t annoying. They’re needy.
Toddlers have a way of asserting their independence that can almost fool us into thinking that they have it. But they are really those same helpless babies, who need to be told that they’re hungry or tired. They also need to be smothered with hugs, kisses, and love.
It’s a time of discovery, learning and connecting.
But it’s also a time when they are needy and can even seem annoying at times. Let’s support our fellow toddler moms, by changing this attitude, and empowering each other. We are not perfect, but together we can work towards being better.
Let’s work together to connect with our toddlers, change our attitudes, and stand together with our fellow moms who are struggling. We all struggle, we all have similar challenges, so let’s embrace them and overcome them together!
Do you have any stories to share? Have you had your toddler nag you, only to discover it was a visible need?