While driving in the car with one of my daughters recently, I realized that she seemed to be in her own little cocoon. Instead of having a two-way conversation with me, the dialogue turned into a Toby Keith moment: I wanna talk about me! This has happened before with each of my daughters. They look in the vanity mirror, talk about their hair, what they are going to buy or which of their friends did this or that. Funny thing is, even though they are teens now, their behaviors reminded me of when they were toddlers. It seems to me when looking at the research, there are a lot of similarities when it comes to toddler and teen development! Would you agree?
- Easily distracted
- Enjoy making messes
- Challenge boundaries
- Push for independence
- Want your full attention
- Demanding when own needs aren’t met
- Can only feel their own discomfort
- No reason to wait for anything
- Language all their own
So, what’s a parent to do? The stuff we already know to do that reinforces their social and emotional skills!
- Show your child you are actively listening (be aware of eye contact, body language, tone of voice)
- Recognize them as a unique individual
- Demonstrate respect
- Model appropriate responses (behavioral and verbal)
- Talk with them, not at them
- Allow them opportunity to express themselves
- Respect their feelings and opinions
Whether a toddler or a teen, it’s so important for parents to teach children how to communicate with respect whether they are talking to mom and dad, a peer or a teacher.