Monday, November 25, 2013

A Buddy-ful Week

Ellie's week was full of visits with other toddlers and she had so much fun spending time with all of her little friends. Last Saturday her cousin Quinne and friend James came over to play during the Beaver football game. They sure are a rowdy bunch, it was fun to watch them all shout and dance and play together.

Ellie's best bud and cousin Quinne, James and Ellie actually sort of sitting still. It's funny how James and Ellie look more related than the cousins :)

We also payed a visit to Ellie's friend Harper's house during the week. These two always have a ball chasing each other around the house and giggling uncontrollably about it. They make such a cute little pair :)
I'm glad I remembered to snap a photo, even just with my phone. I often forget in the moment, and later find myself wishing I had more photos of Ellie with her little pals. I have a feeling she will enjoy seeing all of these later in life.

Ellie had so much fun seeing her friend Alegra on Friday. Although it was a chilly afternoon and she inevitably wriggled her way out of her coat and hat, she loved running around and exploring the leaves. It was a nice change to be outside, and they were apparently feeling very lovey together.

How Ellie's outside attire started. I promise I dress my child appropriately, I just can't keep clothes on her!

Alegra was all about the hugs.
Makes my heart smile.

I absolutely love watching babies and toddlers interact. While there are undoubtedly some universal baby and toddler traits that are shared by most, every child is really such an individual, and it is incredible to see their little personalities start to emerge more and more. With these new personalities also comes a sense of independence and defiance, at least in Ellie's case, accompanied by an experimental phase (I am hopeful this is just a phase at least) with behaviors that are not so conducive to friendly play such as hitting, yelling, toy-taking, and tantrums when toys are taken. With Ellie being my first experience raising a child, this toddler phase she is now fully engrossed in has brought up some new anxieties for me. When I meet with other moms to let our babies play, I always find myself overly stressed and intervening, afraid that someone might think my child is mean. Or worse, that I am a bad mother for allowing her behavior and therefore making her mean. I hate having these feelings, and as I watch Ellie play more with others it is becoming more and more apparent that the hitting and toy-taking seem to be something that most toddlers experiment with, keeping me hopeful that this is just a phase. Still, it isn't easy watching her do these things, and even more frustrating feeling out of control about them. 

After a little bit of research online, I came across an interesting article that emphasized toddlers learning to work through conflict with minimal adult intervention, specifically when it comes to toy-taking. The article explained how there was a group held where parents were able to observe their children playing, and only intervene if one were in danger of being hurt. After countless unsuccessful attempts to intervene with Ellie EVERY time she snatches a toy from another child or proceeds to throw herself to the ground as if her life is over the second someone tries to take something from her, this article really caught my attention. Thinking about the concept behind the whole idea seems to now be so clear to me. If I am always stepping in when a conflict like this arises, then I am not letting Ellie learn an important life skill of how to resolve conflict on her own. She will expect me to be there to solve her problem every time it happens, because that is what she is used to. Also, as the article points out, she may be participating in this toy-taking behavior for an adult's reaction and attention to it all in the first place. Giving her this reaction each time could therefore just be feeding the fire and continuing the behavior. I sat back after reading the article and sort of had one of those "duh, why didn't I think of that?" moments that I have had so many times after learning about a new way of solving an issue with Ellie. I like to blame it on the pregnancy brain, which should really just be called "mommy brain" because it doesn't go away, even when you aren't pregnant anymore. I am somewhat excited and curious now to have a more laid-back approach to the issue, and let Ellie play more freely (as long as the other mom is on board of course) and work through her toy-taking episodes on her own. Like it was mentioned in the article, I am hoping that I will be pleasantly surprised with how often Ellie and other toddlers will be able to work through a conflict on their own, especially once she is no longer used to having me step in every time. Luckily, since we all know things don't always go as you had hoped, there is also some helpful information on the website about how to properly deal with the habitual toy-taker, where intervention might actually be needed to stop the pattern of behavior. If you are interested at all and want to check it out the website is .

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