This is my very own daughter. She was almost 15 months old in this picture and I remember exactly where we were when this photo was taken. We had been swimming in the heat of August and started packing up to leave for home. Obviously she was not pleased about leaving the lake. On a bad day she still pretty much looks like this. On a good day she is smiles and unicorns.
There are few toddler behaviors that do not test our limits. But that’s what they are supposed to do, test our limits. They are in their peek years of learning boundaries and social behaviors. It’s our job to provide guidance, redirect them when they try out new behaviors and provide a safe space. This is the goal, but some days I find I am more annoyed and short with patience than I would like to be.
My oldest (pictured above) loves to pout. that is her go-to when she wants to let you know that she is displeased with something. Pouting at any age can really get under your skin. It translates as ‘poor me’, or ‘brat’. Well, at least that’s the judgement schema I am using. But it’s completely normal when kids try to manipulate their environment to get their needs met…they watch adults do it all the time.
While I respect my daughters feelings, I also needed to learn to ‘not react’ and not reacting took quite a bit of practice for me.
When my daughter would pout I would feel one of two ways: either helpless and defeated (I had just spend an entire hour reading to her….and now she is pouting for “one more” book) OR I would get pissed, like really pissed. When in the defeated mode, I would try to talk with her and to understand her feelings, ‘reason’ with her. In my angry mode, I would let her know I was annoyed. And you know what? NEITHER approach soothed her nor did it end the pouting.
So, I have decided to IGNORE it. Ignore it completely. Carry on as if she was not sulking. When I ignore the behavior (e.g. do not give feedback to her pouty face), and just carry on with our activity or switching to the next task, she starts to go with the flow as if she is happy as a peach. Go figure!
While this seems like an easy no-brainer, it can be hard to ignore the pouting. If I am tired, it’s tougher to ignore it. I remind myself that I am not striving for perfection with this one, I am merely trying to prevent a 3 year old from robbing me of my daily sanity.
If you have a child who pouts often or has temper tantrums at every turn, I understand your frustration. When I need inspiration or guidance I often read Janet Lansbury. Her advice is practical and respectful. I appreciate this. Sometimes I just need the validation from an outsider that this is all normal and that this too, shall pass.