Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What to do when all you hear is "Mine!"

Just starting this week, my son has had an odd new habit in the mornings.  Whenever it's time to leave for school, right as we're heading out the door he'll grab one of his toys, or maybe a favorite book.  If you try to convince him to leave it at home, he'll just hold onto it more tightly and yell.

Given that the last thing we want to do right before work is defuse a toddler tantrum, my husband and I have been just letting him carry the possession into the car and hold it during the ride to preschool.  Sometimes we can get him to leave it in the car, other times, he's insistent on bringing it inside.

His teacher, the lovely Mrs. B, has also informed us that he's starting to use the words "mine" and "no" a lot more frequently.  This bothers us a little.  He's always been great about sharing with other kids, and he's normally pretty agreeable.  But lately, we've been seeing him act out this way at home, too.

For instance, we normally set out a few appropriate outfits for him in the morning, but let him select which one he wants to wear.  A few times lately, he's ignored what we've set out as options and gone to the drawer or the hamper to grab entirely different clothes, which just won't work.  (Not weather appropriate, don't fit, etc.)  When we try to divert him back to the clothing options we've set out, he'll cling to the clothes he wants to wear and say "mine", but normally in a giggling, playful way.

Or, he'll just be contrary, like he was this morning.  My son is very affectionate, and always gives Mommy a hug and kiss before she leaves for work.  I was heading out the door this morning, so I leaned down to him and said, "Can Mommy have a kiss?"

Any time before, he would have just given me a kiss.  Today, he giggled, ducked his head, and said, "No."

"I can't have a kiss?"

:giggle:  "No."

When he realized I was leaving, he yelled "Bye Mommy!" and blew me a kiss, so I guess that makes up for it.  And I know he wasn't mad with me or anything like that; his behavior was obviously playful.  I suppose it just seems odd because it's so sudden.  His speech and language development has been advancing exponentially over the last couple of weeks, so I suppose it stands to reason that his ability to disagree would increase at the same pace.

Fortunately, from what I've been reading, the "no"-and-"mine" phase is all part of healthy development.  My son feels power from having control over his actions and possessions, and it's helping him to self-identify.  As the linked post explains, toddlers can't learn to share until they have the actual concept of ownership.

Which makes sense, but is still kind of a bummer.  We all want our babies to come to us as flawless, sweet-natured little angels, full of goodness and light.  It's hard reminding ourselves that they're really just little people, with all of the average adult's self-centeredness and flaws, but little of the average adult's social conditioning.

So I won't pressure my son for perfection while he's learning to navigate the tricky waters of independence and cooperation.  I'll do my best to lead by example and help him learn to find the right solutions to problems on his own.

But when I get home this afternoon, I'm getting two kisses to make up for the one I didn't get this morning.

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