Years ago, I went to graduate school and got my Master’s in general psychology with my main focus being on social and developmental psychology. I learned a lot about the stages of development and how it might manifest in a child growing up. Even though it has been 20 years since I started my grad program, I still remember much of what I learned. As my girls grow, I’m seeing all I learned in action, particularly as I experience the toddler stages of development.
Some observations have been humorous. I know that when the baby drops something on the floor repeatedly, she is just being a mini-scientist testing a theory. She wants to keep repeating the “experiment” to see if she gets the same result every time. The trick with this stage is to be smarter than the baby before it moves from “experiment” to “game.” I’ve also been proud and disappointed when I realized my girls reached the object permanence stage. It meant I could no longer hide the toy or my cell phone as easily, darn it. They knew it was still there somewhere.
My toddler, Ginny, has hit that lovely stage of autonomy. Like all toddlers, she wants to do most things herself. Of course the fact that she is also thinks the world revolves around her makes this stage particularly challenging. At the same time, it can be rather amusing how she will express her need to be independent.
- Ginny loves to help. She wants to help, and we let her. However, if you try to help her with ANYTHING, that is unacceptable. Well, unless she asks for help which is quite rare.
- One of Ginny’s favorite phrases is “my turn, my turn.” I may try to leave her room ahead of her. She will grab my shirt and pull me back; all the time saying “my turn, my turn.” I will not be “allowed” to leave the room until she is well clear of the space.
- Fashion choicesmust be approved of by Ginny. She will not wear a shirt or dress unless she has picked it out. I usually give her options, but sometimes even that doesn’t work. She will look in her closet and decide that a pretty pink dress is a better option.
- All objects in the home are Ginny’s, at least in her little mind. If you want to use an object, it must be with the blessing of our daughter. For example, yesterday a friend called to wish me a happy birthday. My spunky child decided that she wanted to use the phone. I let her for a few moments, but then Ginny refused to give me the phone back. I retrieved the phone, but not without a lot of drama. A major meltdown was involved. It took a cracker to calm her down, eventually.
Most of the time, I can laugh at what is going on, particularly meltdowns from Ginny. I’m a mean mom. I pull out my phone and photograph her. After all, I do it in the interest of psychological observation. Also, the pictures may serve as a reminder that if I survived this stage, I can survive the next.