Let’s talk about toddler identity.
Not an Adult.
Not a baby.
Not quite a kid.
Not a baby.
Not an Adult
Oh but they want to be. Maybe they even think they are. They are surrounded by adults constantly communicating to them. We communicate love to them. We communicate skills that they need to learn. And correction. We communicate correction annd… We communicate correction. And, we do it again. Right?!
“Don’t touch this okay? This is my muffin!”
Those are the words of my 2 1/2 year old. She was telling mom and dad not to touch the sticky blob of tomato soup mixed with a handful of flour she managed to dump into her bowl when I wasn’t looking. She had taken it upon herself to cook up some muffins. And the funny thing is- her little blobs quite resembled muffin batter.
(note to self: be careful of which cooking tutorials I let her watch with me)
She wants to do everything she sees mommy and daddy do, including instructing and correcting her little 7-month-old brother and 10-month-old friend that we babysit.
But she’s not yet an adult. Not quite a kid.
Not a Baby
“waa… waa… “
I watched as she played. She was pretending to be a baby with Nana. Having Nana pick her up, rock her, etc., all the while not using any words, but pathetic little whimpers.
This was play time, and I’m loving the way she is learning to use her imagination. But let’s be real. Toddlers emulate babies all the time. I tend to think my toddler has an excuse, seeing as she’s around two babies all the time. You know, she sees the ways that they get attention and decides to try them out for herself. (Crying, grunting, doing something dangerous, etc. ) But of course most toddlers show those kinds of behaviors regardless to whether there are babies in the house or not.
The point is, they are no longer babies.
The Identity Crisis
It’s kind of funny right? 2 going on 20. But this is a real thing. They are in such an interesting stage of development….soaking EVERYTHING up… learning and memorizing even when we don’t realize. When I was putting my daughter to bed, I was surprised when she started “reading” the entire page out loud with me. Surprised, but not really. Our toddlers are learning all. the. time.
But they still have significant limitations. So what can we do to help them through this identity crisis?
Helping Them Through
Yes. This is something I am learning every day. Every day I’m asking God for strength to be patient. I’m asking Him to remind me of His patience toward us. As much as the in between stage is hard for us as parents, it’s not easy for our little ones either.
Remember the Goal
As a stay at home mama of two (2 and under) who also watches another baby throughout the week, I have to remember the end goal. I have to remember that my ultimate goal is not to change my daughter’s behavior. My ultimate goal is to lead her to the Heavenly Father. And in remembering this, I cannot help but think about who my beautiful daughter will become. I cannot help but imagine the kind of young woman she will be and the kind of impact she will have on the world.
Affirm Who They are Now
I am blessed and honored to be able to parent my children as they become all they are created to be, but what about the here and now? It is so important that we affirm our in between toddlers for who they are now. They might be limited in certain ways. We might have to tell them no a lot, but there is so much that they can still do and do well. Let’s encourage them and reassure that they are a vital part of our families.
Not an adult.
Not a baby.
Not quite a “kid”.
Nevertheless, they are becoming powerful… MIGHTY… arrows in the hands of warriors.
Lord may we never loose sight of what you are doing in our children!