I don’t have one. If you find the cure all, train all, fix all, perfect answer that works the same on every one. . .well, I’d probably not believe you anyway!
So seriously, though, I couldn’t resist putting some ridiculous title on what I’m about to say. I currently have a 2 going on 3 y.o. who may be the most challenging toddler I’ve had so far. I’ve had 7, a couple with very strong wills. This one still is way more challenging. He’s busy, he’s non-verbal, possibly some hearing problems and some known vision ones. It’s hard sometimes to know how to teach and train a typical toddler, but with limited communication it’s overwhelming at times. And he’s not calm or quiet or still. Ever. He’s the one, who when you look away. . .has escaped the stroller seat, climbed the furniture and is standing on top of something, possibly dangerous, laughing hysterically with a disturbing gleam in his eye! Goodness!
So now to the point. I’ve recently been encouraged by the Serenity Prayer, the long version.
- God, give me grace to accept with serenity
- the things that cannot be changed,
- Courage to change the things
- which should be changed,
- and the Wisdom to distinguish
- the one from the other.
- Living one day at a time,
- Enjoying one moment at a time,
- Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
- Taking, as Jesus did,
- This sinful world as it is,
- Not as I would have it,
- Trusting that You will make all things right,
- If I surrender to Your will,
- So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
- And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
- Amen. ~Reinhold Niebuhr
How does this apply to toddlers? “Give me the courage to change that which should be changed…” is such a powerful concept! What can you change, today? Choose little things. My favorite to start with is “Sit, be quiet and stay.” Teach your children, all of them to do this everyday. Work on it everyday. Have everyone sit. Explain what you’re doing. “We’re going to practice sitting still and being quiet!” Give the littlest ones a book or a toy. Don’t give it back if they throw it. Sit by the littlest ones, they’ll need help and reminders to master this concept. It’s huge! Transforming.
If you could at any time ask your children to gather, sit down and be still for say, 15 minutes or 30 minutes, couldn’t that radically shift the stress of a situation? Children and adults have lost the ability to be content without entertainment. I know this sounds simply, maybe silly. But try it. I had forgotten. Then after Christmas craziness, family, travel, sugar and all I realized I had a grumpy toddler. I practiced this. What an instant difference! He cheers up. Not forever, but I don’t need forever!
When you take away everything, all the stuff and the freedom to move about and interact, they quiet. Outside, but also inside. Then, when released they are calmer for a time. Grateful for the freedom again whether they recognize it or not. Waiting builds patience. Lack builds gratefulness for their toys and things. Peace with nothing makes peace with anything easier.
Don’t give up, dear Mamas who feel overwhelmed and exhausted! Find a small thing that should be changed in your home or family and have the courage to change it. Over time that collection of small, subtle changes will add up to great change and transformation!