In our Have a Happier Toddler post, we started providing ideas on how to help little ones peacefully cooperate with tasks that need to be done while avoiding temper tantrums. Today, I’d like to discuss other ways we help keep our three-year-old stay happy while allowing him to release energy.
What I’d like to start with is that we feel it’s important to respect our son as a person. Respecting him is something we feel is important not only because he is a person but also because he will learn how to respect others in the process. All this also helps keep us a happy family too.
In order to demonstrate what I mean, I will provide a few examples below. What I want to mention is that we know not all of the examples are something that work for everyone but our hope is that these examples will help you come up with ideas that will work for you.
Ways We Respect Him
- We allow our son a couple places to jump around inside.
This is one of those much-needed energy releasing activities we allow him to do when at home because we respect that he needs to burn a lot of energy. It’s also really fun for him.
That said, there are limits in that he can jump and/or bounce on designated items only and he has to stay on his knees (no feet allowed) for most of them.
o We allow him to jump/bounce on the following:
our foam no-spring mattress, a futon mattress on the floor, a very durable no-spring couch, and either directly on the floor or with a blanket (for padding) on the floor
- We allow him to run inside.
This again is one of those very much-needed energy releasing activities. It also really helps all of us as a family when Bob and I need to accomplish tasks by staying inside at home or when the weather is bad. There’s just enough room for him to run from our bedroom, down the hallway, through the kitchen, into the living room and back. He just loves going back and forth!
- We give him the opportunity to make choices for himself.
As long as he has had good behavior, we respect that he is an individual who can make choices for himself.
o We’ll offer him choices such as:
what to wear (within reason and appropriate for the weather), which vehicle to ride in if we have both vehicles while out ‘n about, what to eat, which direction to go in when at the park, which (learning) video to watch, which book he wants us to read with him, which toys to come along (within reason) when leaving home, etc.
- There is no established nap time.
I cannot express enough how much I truly disliked it when I was absolutely forced to take a nap every day when I was a young child, and sometimes at designated times, every day. I saw it as creating unnecessary excess tensions. It is because of that that I would end up “faking” sleep about half the time because I simply wasn’t tired. I really don’t think that did anyone any good and I think it was just a waste of time.
In truth, our little guy will fall asleep for a nap when, where and IF he chooses. Though that is not every day, it really doesn’t matter (in our opinion) since that means that he is regulating how much rest he needs. It’s just another way we respect him as a person.
Though respecting him with the above (and more) is important, we still provide rules he needs to follow. One of those is that we teach him that he cannot run or jump around like that when visiting other people’s homes. What helps us with that is restricting what he can jump on at home and by preventing him from running when in public buildings. We also take away privileges and give time-outs when he is uncooperative. That said, he is happy most of the time with little need for the consequences. (Please note that we say consequence and not discipline.)
In the end, these are only a very few examples. The reason we chose these is because we know there are a lot of people that we’ve interacted with over the years who do not allow the above with their little ones and felt these were important to mention here because of that. Our hope is that this will help people understand why respecting little ones and allowing them their energy releases is important. All this is just another reason why we stay happy as a family.
I now turn the discussion over to you and ask you what other ways you respect your little ones?
Go to view previous post of the Happier Toddler Series