Saturday, January 11, 2014

Setting rules & other parenting observations...

This past winter, I had the wonderful privilege of welcoming my new niece, baby Hannah.  I've already been blessed with one 4-year old niece, Hannah's big sis, Emma.  I absolutely love being an aunt.  Though my husband and I don't have any children of our own, having two nieces has really given us some perspective and preparation for the future.  We've learned so much through interacting with Emma over the past four years (she absolutely adores my husband).  One of the benefits of being an aunt is that it's a lot like getting a front row seat to parenting.  By no means do I claim any expertise on parenting - quite the contrary.  However, I do offer some insight that's more like note-taking.

I've noticed so many things about my niece (and toddlers in general) over the past few years:

1.  They thrive on structure & consistency - My niece is a much happier toddler when she arrives at preschool on time and get her daily nap.  I've noticed those to be the major two things that dictate her mood.
2.  They watch how you (parents) interact with other adults - Okay, my niece is only 4 and I've caught her mimicking entire conversations her parents have had with other adults.  One thing she tends to say a lot is, "Oh well, whatever," since this is something her mom often says.  Just be careful, because they also catch onto negative behaviors too.
3.  They are too smart for their own good - It's at the toddler phase when they start trying to test what they can get away with.  If they can kick and scream enough to get what they want, they will continue to do it.  They're smart enough, however, to be reasoned with.  My niece usually understands why she can't get her way when you begin to dialogue with her and explain why not.  That way, you stay in control of the situation and it's also a great learning experience for the child.
4.  They love it when you play with them - For the longest time, my husband was my niece's favorite out of all the uncles and aunts.  When her mom asked her why she liked him so much, she said it was because he was the only one who played with her.  The rest of us would always talk to her and tell her she's cute, ask how her day was, etc., but she really just wanted to play.
5.  They need rules - If you set the rules, they will remember them.  I didn't say they will always obey them, but at least they always remember them.  Whenever my husband and I play with my niece, she always wants to be the winner.  Once, when she lost a game, her lips started to cry and you could see that she was about to burst into tears.  I simply reminded her, "Hey, do you remember the rule about crying?"  She quickly stopped crying and responded, "No crying if you lose."  It's never too late to set the rules... as a matter of fact, let the toddler contribute some as well.

Let me know what you think about my observations as I'm not yet a parent.  Am I pretty accurate on these things?  What are some of your thoughts??

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