Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekly Column: They DO Listen!

My toddler – she of little hair – is starting to notice the possibilities for hair bows and barrettes. She wants to wear them, prance around in them, and admire her reflection in them. And then she wants to rip them out after about 3 minutes. They don’t last long, though they look awfully cute.

For the most part, I’ve taken this as an unchangeable truth: she won’t wear pretty things in her hair.

But the other day, I needed her to wear a barrette. The front of her hair had been coated with sunscreen, and I couldn’t let that oily strand fall into her eyes any longer. I clipped it back with a jeweled bow, and crossed my fingers that she’d keep it in throughout our errands that day. Before leaving, I had an idea, though: I’d tell her not to rip the bow out.

Sometimes I forget that my toddler has the capability to do as I say. She CAN listen and follow directions just fine, but I get into ruts where I assume her age-appropriate rebellion and curiosity will always prevent her from listening. I have to remember that she’ll never follow a direction if it’s never given; I have to give her the benefit of the doubt.

That day with the hair bow was a revelation: she didn’t pull it out. She reached up several times to touch it and repeat, “We don’t take it out,” but she left it there for hours.

I’ve already learned to accept that toddlers are growing into themselves with bouts of refusal and disobedience, but now, I’ve also learned not to assume that disobedience or willfulness will always prevail. I’ve learned to trust that she might surprise me with her understanding and reasonability. And I’ve learned to give her a chance to make that choice on her own.


  1. It is amazing when they listen and you realize your words are working!

  2. How novel! A toddler who listens and a mother who notices. Thanks for sharing!

  3. When we treat them like people, it's incredible what happens :)
    Paige still doesn't have enough hair for clips and bows... we're getting there though!

  4. Yay! It's all about the little victories! :)


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?