Tag Archives: behaviour



“A portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2016”

This one (pictured here admiring himself in the mirror post-bath) has been more than a little bit challenging this past week.

He has been seeming super grumpy, which is totally unlike him – quick to get tearful and to lash out, and extra clingy at the same time. He had a cold that lingered for ages, but I’m sure there’s something else going on.

Tonight he started chewing on his hands, and told me that his teeth hurt at the back of his mouth, so maybe it’s his molars.

Or maybe he’s just levelling up again – it definitely feels that way as I watch him learn and play.

Or maybe it’s a bit of all three.

Whatever the reason, it’s been a real test of our parenting strategies, and our commitment to using gentle and respectful techniques to help him grow.

I think we’ve just about managed to hold our course…

Testing the boundaries


It seems our easy-going, gentle, kind, baby boy is morphing into someone different. Terrible twos, I guess: though being only one month into that third year I’m reluctant to just resign myself to that.

It’s been building for a while. His independent streak is getting ever stronger, and though he doesn’t ask the questions I can feel them buzzing around his head.

Why is it ok to hit a drum with sticks but not a person? Why do you praise me when I throw a ball at you, but flinch when I throw a train? Or food for that matter. Or even, as we had this week, a glass bottle – which by some physics-defying miracle didn’t break when it hit the slate floor. 

Why is it funny when I splash water in the bath, but not when I soak myself at dinner time? Why do you encourage me to draw on paper, but take the crayons away when I draw on the wall?  Why do you clap when I jump on to the mats at gym but gasp when I throw myself from the sofa to the wooden floor?

For myself, I’m trying to find ways to explain. To teach him which behaviour is acceptable and which is not. I am not afraid to tell him no, but I want to do it quietly and calmly rather than being the one who shouts. I want to set boundaries, but I don’t want to hammer them into him through naughty steps and time outs. We’ve come so far with our attached and baby-led approach, and I am loathe to throw that all away for quick fixes and easy wins.

But we’ve had a couple of horrid incidents recently, where he has hit and bit and hurt his friends. He hasn’t meant to I don’t think: he hasn’t seemed angry or malicious. When faced with the tears and indignation of his victims he has crumbled himself, afraid and confused. But that doesn’t change the fact it’s happened, that he’s behaved badly and someone else has got hurt.

Right now I’m pretty clear on what I don’t want to do to tackle this, but I’m still scrabbling around for the alternatives.

How do I show my son I respect him, whilst letting him know that some of his behaviours are simply not acceptable? How do I help him develop his curiosity whilst making sure he doesn’t hurt himself or others in the process? How do I hold my nerve and follow the path I believe is right when I can feel myself being judged by my friends and family for not doing what they think I should?

I realise there are a lot of questions here. And it’s not like I’m an amateur in dealing with challenging behaviour: ten years working with teenagers has taught me a lot. But suddenly, now, I feel like I know nothing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: on what has worked for you, and what has not. On how to gently ease a toddler into a social world without destroying his confidence or individuality.

I guess as much as Arthur’s testing his boundaries I’m discovering my own as well. I hope it won’t be too long before we get this next phase of things figured out.

Our word of the week this week is boundaries.

The Reading Residence

Ten tell-tale signs you’re the parent of a toddler


I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some stage over the last few months something has changed. The gorgeous little man I share my days with has made the transition from babyhood to toddlerdom and the world will never be the same again.

You know you’re the parent of a toddler when…

  1. You no longer have creative control over his outfits for the day – and you’re not sure whether to be impressed or embarrassed by the results.
  2. You long for peace and quiet, but the minute you get it you run to see what he’s up to.
  3. You can recite The Gruffalo (and The Gruffalo’s Child) in its entirety.
  4. Meal times have become a military exercise in dodging increasingly well aimed items of food.
  5. The front room is now a carefully constructed obstacle course littered with small vehicles, balls and strangely shaped building blocks.
  6. A quick walk to the shops involves stopping to say hi to every dog, bench and leaf you pass meaning that a trip that should take half an hour can easily be closer to four.
  7. You have become almost entirely immune to the screams that signal the onset of a potential tantrum, knowing that if you hold your ground it will soon pass. Everyone else just thinks you’re heartless.
  8. You’ve perfected the art of pretending to be asleep in the morning, even whilst someone’s standing on your boobs and physically prising your eyelids open.
  9. You know you should be doing the washing up… but it’s just so cute watching him make his teddy bears talk to each other.
  10. You can differentiate the sound of a motorbike, an aeroplane and a speedboat almost before you hear it. Well you can’t, but he can. And you’re learning, right?

So there you have it: the ten tell-take signs that we’ve entered a whole new world of parenting. But how about you? Do any of these sound familiar – and how else has your toddler made themselves known? I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to add to this list as Arthur fully adapts to his new role, but in the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Mums' Days