Lately, my two year old daughter Wren has been doing something different. Whenever she’s done something she knows is wrong or whenever she doesn’t want to do something I ask her to, she makes immediate puppy-dog eye contact, juts out her bottom lip, and says “Mommy, Wrenny wants to sleep.” You might just think she’s tired, but oh no, she could’ve just woken up from a nap and still responds this way. It’s been a pattern I’ve noticed and am curious about.
The speakers suggest trying to put yourself in your child’s shoes and see what they might be getting at with their different behaviors. Certain actions can clue you in to when your child is hungry, sleepy, frustrated, or even happy. One method they recommend is trying to put the child’s experience into words: “Mommy wants you to do something but you don’t want to do it right now.” Another is speaking through the child’s feelings: “Mommy is hugging you and that makes you feel better.”
I don’t quite know the answer to Wren’s sudden sleep habit, but I’m thinking she’s trying to get some snuggles instead of being scolded. It’s kind of fun being curious about the behavior instead of just frustrated/irritated by it (which also happens).
Research also shows that when parents are able and willing to imagine their child’s thoughts and feelings, their children develop better security and attachment, have better language and play abilities at 2 years old, and have better understanding of other’s thoughts and feelings at age 4! Those are some awesome skills that we’d love our children to have, and all we have to do is be curious and imaginative.