Posts Tagged ‘toddler’


My 2yo hit me in the face this afternoon, completely without warning (so it seemed).
I held his hands, “I won’t let you hit me.”
He cried, fought against me, tried to get his hands free.
“I love you, and I won’t let you hit me,” I repeated, with a kind tone of voice while I held his hands firmly, but without hurting him.
He cried a bit more, then yelled, “Mama! I need sleep!”, rolled away from me, and fell asleep almost instantly!

When our kids misbehave, it’s so easy to put the fault on either them or ourselves. It’s much more useful to look for signs of PHALTT – do they need to Potty? Are they Hungry? Anxious? Lonely? Tired? Thirsty? Little ones have an even harder time regulating their behavior when these factors are present than we do, and I know I’ve been irritable and acted unreasonably when I’m feeling one or more of them.

The resulting behaviors don’t call for punishment, but for meeting the needs they indicate while modeling respect for both yourself AND the child, by enforcing boundaries with kind words and gentle hands. Before long, you’ll start to see them regulate their own needs and behaviors: my four year old knows to ask for a snack or a potty break when she starts feeling that way, and even the 2 year old asks for a hug when he’s feeling nervous or lonely.

What questions would you add to the PHALTT checklist?

Playing for Power

Playing Tag

“In play, the ordinary rules of reality are suspended, and that is what gives it such power. A little boy can imagine himself a superhero; a young girl can wrestle her father and pin his shoulders down. Children playing school get to hand out the assignments and the grades and the punishments. The playing field is leveled, or even tipped a bit in favor of the child, to make up for the frustrations of being smaller and weaker and less competent than the bigger folks.”
-Dr. Lawrence Cohen, Playful Parenting

Some of my children’s favorite games seem specifically designed to give them power. In Baby Bear, they always get away with sneaking out of the cave when they’re supposed to be hibernating. In Stop! Go!, they control my every movement. In You Can’t Get It, they always manage to “steal” a toy from me (while I stand there taunting that they’ll never ever get it away) and to run away and hide it where I’ll never find it.

I love that we can play out the impulse to be in control so they can break rules, be the boss, and take things away in a safe, silly scenario rather than through misbehavior.

Playing Tag photo courtesy of Bruce McKay