`My 13 month old son is a toy taker. He sees it and takes it from other children. He is really interested in the toy. It’s not like once he takes it he moves on to taking another child’s toy. A lot of times times I stop him before he takes it and I say “I’ll help you wait for the toy”… he cries and gets upset. Then he goes after the toy again and again until the other child is done with it. Sometimes I feel like I’m being rigid about stopping him and I let him take the toy and hope he and the other child can work it out… When a toy gets taken from him he gets really upset and cries too. Not long cries…little 20 second cries.
I wonder if this is because of my over all parenting style with him. I’m adventurous, i’m with him all day and I let him do pretty much what he wants. If he wants outside we go outside, if the wants to play with forks and knives I let him I just stay close to prevent serous injury. I know all his favorite places and things and we do them all day long. Maybe I’m not being really realistic with him? What child just gets to play and do what he wants all day long?
He use to do this this as young baby too. Everyday at 3 and 4 months I’d taking him walking through a beautiful park and he was mostly really excited but he did get upset and yell out and cry if I did not stop at every flower, tree, person, or dog that he wanted to see at that moment. He would get really upset and he would get over it quickly but it kept happening until I was stopping at taking time seeing everything he wanted to see. Am too permissive and causing him stress?
He’s very active and self motivated just does whatever he wants.
What a wonderfully attuned Mama you are – enjoying your son’s explorations and being willing to help him wait instead of taking the toy. He is so lucky that you are willing to follow his lead so much of the time. It sounds like you are really focusing on connection in your relationship and daily activities.
The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice that connection in order to set a limit. I think Hand in Hand may be one of the only approaches that thinks of Setting Limits as a Listening and Connection Tool.
We LISTEN or observe to decide if a limit is necessary. Are they off-track? Will they stop taking the toy if we simply say ‘no’? Can they move onto something else easily? If we decide they are off-track, we then:
Bring the LIMIT We come close and actually physically stop them from taking the toy. Or we simply put our hand on the toy and say, ‘no, sweetie, I can’t let you take that’
Then we LISTEN to their feelings without saying much. We might reassure them that we are right there. We might gently try to make eye contact. We might reiterate the limit. But we don’t let them go after another toy. We stay close and help them keep the limit.
We say ‘no’ to the off-track behavior or taking of the toy and ‘yes’ to our warm attention, love and connection.
There are several reasons that we think it can be really valuable to set limits. The first is because human beings have this natural healing process. When we are feeling a little scared, disconnected or just have some little piece of gunk stuck in our emotional processing center – gunk that makes it tough to think or wait or share – we often look for a reason or pretext to have a good cry. When a child keeps going after something, or keeps getting in one little problem after another or seems inflexible no matter how often we give in, we say that they are asking for a limit It’s not conscious. Their limbic system/nervous system is asking for a reason to have a good emotional poop, so that they can think clearly again.
The other reason is that we want our children to eventually – when it is age appropriate – be able to hear ‘no’ and to have some flexibility and good thinking around that – to be able to delay gratification or move through a transition. That flexibility comes from having someone say ‘no’ when it feels right to do so, and then having that person/us listen to their feelings. That releasing of the fear that comes from hearing ‘no’ in the presence of someone who knows that we are alright and we can move through these feelings is so powerful. Our love and attention anchors our children in that knowledge and confidence that they can hear ‘no’ and they will be ok.
You might try really holding this limit for your son that he cannot have the toy, and staying with him – not allowing him to go for a different toy. See if you hold the limit what bubbles up for him. And if he’s able to have a good cry, how is he the rest of the day or the next few days. Is he a bit more flexible?
There are some great videos on Setting Limits in our Resource Center – along with an article that really explains how the tool works. It’s called Setting Limits With Young Children https://www.handinhandmembers.org/modules/setting-limits-resource-center/
It sounds like you’ve already read this article, since you know about “I’ll help you wait”, but you might get some good ideas from the limit setting that Patty describes. http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/help-your-child-learn-about-sharing/
Often we need to get listening time ourselves with a listening partner in order to be able to know if you want to set a limit and then to be able to listen to our child cry. There is lots of great information in the Listening Partner Resource Center if you’d like to find out how to get that kind of wonderful support. https://www.handinhandmembers.org/modules/this-weeks-support-over-the-edge-and-back-again/
You are doing so well, Patricia! I’ll be interested to hear how it goes if you decide to try setting and holding the limit. Let us know…
Peace & Smiles,
Parenting by Connection Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi