I love this age with Harley. I’ve already waxed lyrical about how awesome it is now that she’s 18 months old. It’s so fun to be able to play silly games with her now, to laugh or get hugs and kisses (my favorite) and see her personality grow and flourish. I love seeing how independent she is, how strong a sense of self she has. Of course, that also means that sometimes I end up in a fight with my toddler, and I don’t always win. But I really don’t think this is a bad thing.
I actually did my latest Facebook Live about this. You see, Harley has started walking on her own now, and she likes walking everywhere. Except when she doesn’t. For a few days, she was walking from home to the car for school each day, and it was so adorable – even if it did seem to take forever. But all of a sudden, she is absolutely refusing to walk. And as much as I might try to insist on getting her to walk, she will just plant her feet and refuse. So I end up capitulating and just carrying her. And that’s okay.
Here is the FB video I did:
As well as the YouTube version if you prefer:
I think it all comes down to picking your battles. We all want to raise brilliant, free-spirited, creative, innovative humans. We want our little ones to be happy and safe, well-mannered and smart. So much of the research in childhood development is clear that children need boundaries, they need limits, which I think makes parents think they need to be strict or discipline their kids at every opportunity. This is SO not the case. Not every experience needs to be a lesson, not every act of independence is an act of defiance.
When it comes to boundaries, I am very clear with Harley without being mean or argumentative. She must always ride clipped in her car seat, no matter what. She must get all her vaccinations, no matter what. She can’t play around electrical plugs or hot or sharp things in the kitchen. But if she wants to play with a USB stick and old Tupperware as a toy? Go wild. She wants to play in the dirt outside? Go for it! Want to be carried instead of walking to the car? That’s fine, too – it’s not like she will even want to be carried forever.
While there are certain things that I’d like for Harley to do, the reality is that it’s not going to make her a spoiled, mean, rude or belligerent child if I carry her to school. It comes down to the issue of non-negotiables. There are some things that can’t be compromised on, mostly about safety, and those are her boundaries. For the rest, pick your battles. One day, when your child changes the world because they aren’t so bogged down in questioning what’s allowed or possible, you will be so glad you didn’t stress the small stuff or fight with your toddler. Because let’s all face it, we usually lose, and there’s nothing more demoralizing than losing a fight with your tiny human.