Parents often worry about how things are going for their children. It is hard with so many contradicting opinions and views on parenting to really know how we’re doing.
(I do plan to write the second ebook on why this happens and look at the different approaches to parenting,teaching and advising. Time. Sigh.)
What is good is that there are some sure signs that things are going well – no matter which advice we are following. The first, which I hammer on about all the time, is if children can maintain warm and constant eye-contact with their mothers (main-caregivers) without prompting or teaching.
Another key with toddlers is the amount of time they spend mimicing their mothers (main-caregivers). [While all mammals and some birds mimic the object of their affection, it is the degree to which our children do this that I am focussing on in this post.]
Mr Butterfly (21 months) is right in the middle of this stage and it does drive me crazy at times. But this is exactly what he needs to be doing at this stage of his development so I take a deep breath and know that this too will pass.
I have become the mother who cleans the loo every day (call it having sons) and who vacumms every day (call it having children). And although I can usually stop Mr Butterfly from flicking the toilet-brush around everywhere, he does like to get in and have a swish around when I’m not looking and someone (let’s say an older brother) hasn’t closed the door after they’ve been.
Mr Butterfly also becomes excited when the vacuum-cleaner appears (clearly not my real son). I usually get it out before I need to use it so that he can have a turn first. I go and do something else and by the time I’m finished my chore so is he and I can vacuum properly. (He did scream about the noise until he was older than 18 months as did the older boys. We simply didn’t vacuum every day then and waited until someone could take the screamer for a walk while the other parent did the work, let’s say once a week. *wink*)
Mr Butterfly likes to work alongside me while I sweep (he has his own small broom and will put some imaginary dust into the bin using the half-brush and shovel). He gets a bowl out when he sees me preparing food for him. He puts his dirty cup back into the cupboard when he’s finished drinking. He spends as much of his day hammering (just like Daddy), or cutting or sanding as he can. He draws (just like his brothers) and climbs like they do and rides his little sit-on and scoot-along-the-ground bike.
I know of at least one parent who decided that doing these things wasn’t ‘educational’ enough for her child, so put him into daycare so he could learn stuff. She simply didn’t realise that mimicry was a sign that her son felt a strong emotional connection to her and was showing her that he trusted her to ‘teach’ him how to manage the world. She also enforced other times of disconnection, which probably haven’t been useful for him. Interestingly, with that same child – who at the age of two showed he was well connected to her, she now has (disconnection) behavioural issues.
Education is great. I’m all for it. But toddlers don’t really need to be learning their alphabet, colours, shapes and numbers. These are important but they are not urgent. Let’s get education into perspective! For healthy development, toddlers truly need to be following us around and mimicing what they see. They need to be with someone who engages them in conversation and listens to what they have to say, then responds to show they have been properly heard.
The key to all this is connectiveness. Emotionally connected toddlers will mimic their parents more than toddlers who aren’t as emotionally connected. It’s a matter of degree – the greater the connection the greater the amount of mimicry. The mimicry shows that they trust their parents will guide them properly. The mimicry shows they feel safe. The mimicry shows they want to be just like their parents and they enjoy our company. I kinda like that.
So whomever you follow for your parenting advice – be assured, that a toddler who has warm and constant eye-contact with their main care-giver (without prompting) and who engages in lots of mimicry – is doing just fine.
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