Who knew when you were first handed that sweet little bundle of joy, that really they were handing you a puzzle that never ends and can change the rules of the game at any given moment? I sometimes feel as though once you’ve mastered knowing what your child needs, they wake up one morning and everything has somehow changed!
Each phase in a child’s life is so unique and brings its own joys and challenges. Once your child is born, you have 936 weeks until they turn 18. That number may seem big at first, but how the weeks fly! My oldest daughter is almost three and I simply can’t believe it. The days feel oh so long sometimes, but those weeks seem to continue to sneak by.
The Zero-One phase is the phase where nobody sleeps, everyone smells, and one mesmerizing baby convinces you, “I need you now!” During this phase, your baby’s main concern is “Am I safe?”
I remember the never-ending newborn nights, when all my daughter wanted was to be held or cluster feed. In that level of exhaustion that I could have never prepared myself for, I was unknowingly answering her question. Every time I picked up that sweet baby and cared for her, she knew that she was safe and loved. No matter how exhausting it is, I still marvel at how both my daughters will calm when I hold them. It almost feels like a secret superpower and I relish those moments.
In the One-Two phase, nobody’s on time, everything’s a mess, and one eager toddler will insist “I can do it.” This is the phase where your toddler wants to know “Am I able?”
Toddlers learn best by doing and suddenly your house has turned into meltdown central. They are trying to learn so many new skills during this phase and with that comes failure. I know that as a thirty-year-old, I still simply abhor failing. So how much more earth-shattering does it feel for your toddler that is trying to learn how to use a fork or spoon? Failure stings no matter our age, but imagine not having ever failed before? Not only are they learning big life skills, but they are also learning how to deal with big emotions.
However, we must allow our kids to fail. I know how hard that is. It’s simply so much easier (and faster!) to help them do things. Children are not given the opportunity to take risks, which means they have very little understanding of their own safety, and can often take too great a risk, or too few risks, as adults.
This is called the “myth of fragility” and instead argues that failure in life, whether it’s on the monkey bars or at completing a chore, will make us stronger, not weaker. Rising cases at schools of children not knowing how to tie shoelaces or pack their backpacks are because parents have not given kids the opportunity to fail multiple times before conquering a new skill. It is really stressful and takes time, but once they can do it, your job just got a bit easier.
I can’t count how many times a day I hear my oldest say “No me do it!” It can be exhausting to repeatedly allow her to help with various tasks. Even so, I know that in the long run, I want her to be as capable as she can when she leaves our home.
Your toddler is feeling so much more than they are capable of verbally communicating at this stage, so it is your job to continually show up and remind them of how safe they are with you. My oldest is so strong, independent, and stubborn.
Those qualities can be draining to parents, however, those are traits that I have prayed she would have. I pray that God would continue to teach me how to mold those characteristics into positive qualities that will help her in the long run. Life is tough, so we need to help our kids gain as much grit as we can while they are in our home.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com