When I worked at a daycare in college, my favorite classroom to work in was the toddler classroom. Not only were they adorable, but they taught me a lot about myself as a parent and future professional. At the time, I had a toddler too, so I often applied the things I learned at the daycare and from the child development curriculum of my courses in our daily lives. For instance, phrases like “use your words” became a part of my vocabulary.
My oldest is now a tween and my youngest is days away from venturing beyond toddlerhood. Before her, it had been years since I mothered a toddler. Yet some of those phrases still stuck, making an appearance for my second stint at toddlerhood.
These phrases, along with more generic ones like “got to bed,” increase the risk of me falling victim to the toddler side-eye, a fit of giggles or an impromptu game of chase. Yet, I say them over and over. Sometimes I wonder if my little one’s “interpretation” of my words is a little off because she so often does the complete opposite or something entirely different. Oh, autonomy.
What I said: Calm your body.
What my toddler heard: Let it all out. It’s not good to hold things inside. Do that thing where you look like you aren’t breathing and show me who’s boss.
What I said: Use your words.
What my toddler heard: Do not use your words. Save them for later. Cry, scream, whine a little. Just, please, don’t use your words.
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