An intentional parent knows what they are aiming for and how they are going to get there, they are aware of different developmental stages and work with them, they are aware of the child’s individual quirks and needs and makes room for them as well. Being an intentional parent is hard work – you don’t just follow the latest parenting fads – instead you think through what your values are and how you are going to pass them onto your children.
Sometimes it is hard to define why we hold to a particular value – why do we not want our little kids to hit, scream or throw toys. An intentional parent thinks these things through.
One of the defining questions we ask when we consider a child’s behaviour is – is this considerate to other people. If you are still uncertain, then a few more questions will help you define how behaviour affects other people. E.g:
- If we were at someone else’s house, would I be happy for this to happen?
- If I was shopping, or doing something else, would I be comfortable for this to happen?
- If I had three kids doing this all at the same time, would I be okay with this?
- If they did this to a friend, and not their sibling, would I react differently?
- What if someone did this to me, or one of my kids, what would I feel?
Another thing I consider, when dealing with my toddler, is the heart – what is the root of this behaviour. They may not know it themselves (and they don’t) but I can trace certain behaviours back to certain motivations – are they being selfish, angry, wilful, defiant, unforgiving. We can see these things in a little person’s life, and we can address them.
An intentional parent doesn’t just hope for the best, but rather works towards the goal. A child who is left to their own devices, without any instruction, encouragement or praise, will be a selfish, self-absorbed human being. We need to teach and train our toddlers to be loving, obedient, have self-control and show responsibility. These skills, or character traits, will be with them for the rest of their life.
In order to teach our kids anything (at any age) we model, teach, practice and then expect them to do it. This process is a long process – it isn’t about taking 10minutes showing, teaching, practicing and then expecting them to have it! No, it is about taking days, even weeks at any one of these stages. You cannot rush instruction – it takes time.
And yet, time is one of the shortest commodities with a toddler in the house – time just disappears. When we have a toddler, we need to recognise that this is the season of life we are in. Each season of life offers its unique limitations and opportunities. We can pull against that, or we can work with it. When we work with it, we recognise the demands on our time, we find ways to deal with things the best we can, we may even drop certain things that aren’t a priority at this time of our life. A toddler needs our focus and our attention – are we willing to give it to them?