Since it is Valentine’s Day, love is at the forefront of many people’s thoughts. For parents of young children, love is something that we learn more and more about each day. From the moment that we hold each of our children for the first time, we are learning what it means to love them.
Sometimes, loving our little ones is effortless. Other times, it requires strength and courage that we did not even know that we had. Toddlers are interesting little people, and each day with a toddler holds the potential for both moments of exhilaration and moments of despair. The challenge for parents of toddlers is learning to love them when they are at their best, at their worst, and at all points in between.
It is easy to love your toddler when he cuddles up to you and tells you that you are the best Mommy or Daddy ever. However, when that same little boy is writhing on the floor an hour later screaming at you because you have told him that he can not do something that he wants to do, it takes a great deal of strength and courage to respond to him in a loving way. To remain close to him as he rages, to let him know that it is okay for him to feel angry even when all you want to do is run and hide and wait for the fit to be over, that is love. Not only is that love, it is love that builds an even stronger bond between you and your toddler. It is love that lets him know that he is safe with you, and that he can turn to you for help with the big feelings that he has.
The love that you have for your toddler is beneficial to him in many ways. It is also beneficial to you, in more ways than you might think. During those times when your toddler’s behavior is challenging, you can use your love as a starting point in deciding how to respond. By taking a moment to center and calm yourself, and asking yourself how you can respond to the situation and your toddler out of love instead of out of anger or frustration, you give yourself the opportunity to act in a way that will bring both you and your toddler through the challenging situation to a calm and peaceful resolution. When you act out of love, both you and your toddler win.