Resistant? Or, independent?

Posted By on Nov 13, 2019 |

Last week, a toddler resisted putting on his coat to go home. Did he a) not want to go home, b) not want to put on his coat, or, c) did he just want to do it himself? (The clue is in the word “toddler”.) His mom wisely gave him the opportunity to show what he could do. He didn’t mind putting on his coat at all — as long as he could do it himself.

It has become a cliche, how toddlers want to do things themselves, often long before they have the actual skills to do so. We have a spring water dispenser in one of our classrooms. Three classes of students, toddlers through preschoolers, use it to refill their water bottles. When I first saw it, I was concerned that there would constantly be spills. I soon saw that even our toddlers were able to handle the responsibility. I always kind of secretly smile to myself when a child fills his/her water bottle to the brim and has to either take a drink right away or walk very slowly, very carefully, back to the table. The person who spills the most? Me, when I replace the 5-gallon container!

One of my graduate courses in counseling had a motto: Notice what you resist. This awareness became so ingrained for our class that one of my classmates cross-stitched the word “Notice” into an ornament. Twenty-five years later, that ornament stills hangs on my refrigerator. We often know that we (or our kiddos) are resisting something; the real wisdom comes in knowing what we resist.

Yesterday, the toddler again didn’t want to put his coat on. He was ready to go home, he knew it was cold outside, his mom gave him the opportunity to put it on himself. What was he resisting this time? Perhaps, he needed to up the ante on his independence, bit by bit. This time, he wanted to choose who laid out his coat for him to flip on himself. I was the chosen one yesterday. I wonder what will happen today?