It’s dinner time and I have to take a few deep breaths to keep myself from eating my food as fast as possible. I have literally been running around, trying to keep a 9 month old happy by holding her, letting a two year old “help” with dinner (aka making a massive mess while screaming for more autonomy than his young self is capable of handling). I have to tell myself: “This is a relaxing time. You are not in a hurry anymore. Enjoy your meal with your family”
I succeed in lowering whatever chemical/hormones are rushing through my system and slow down and enjoy a meal with my family. After three bites my two year old decides he wants a bite of my food and I see no problem with that and tell him “OK but you have to wait, it’s really hot.”
He then proceeds to scream and yell that he wants it now.
I again respond with “You have to wait it’s really hot“
He’s not hearing it, so I tell him “OK you can have it.” He looks at me in disbelief.
“You can have it but it’s going to burn you really bad and you’re going to cry really loud” He gets it. He doesn’t fight me on it anymore and though I have now set the fork with the actually very hot food on his plate he doesn’t touch it.
This is when I say it again. The food is very hot and you’ll have to wait so it doesn’t burn you. He calmly waits and when the food is cool I give him a bite and tell him to blow on it a little and eat it. Which he does.
This isn’t the first time I have given my young son the option to choose something dangerous. He knows the consequences can be serious. At the grocery story instead of nagging for him to stop trying to jump out of the cart I stop the cart and ask him to look at the ground and see how far it is and that if he decides to climb out he’s going to hit the floor KERPLAX and it will hurt and he will cry. I also let him do things that are a little risky, he stands on a rocking horse with hands in the air with my encouragement and cheering . After nap time he walks “the balance beam” along his bed and he has fallen off into my arms numerous times.
The possibility of injury and the risk of serious consequences can be taught to a young child. I believe letting a young child make these decisions at a young age for themselves will show them, when you say something it’s important. It’s a lesson that is easier taught young. I understand that not all children will stop and look at the consequences and act accordingly. I think it best to catch them at the last possible moment and say “Wow you almost hurt yourself” or “Look how hot that was” or “that would have hurt if you had fallen all the way to the ground”
It’s not my goal to show my child how much I love them. They will understand by my actions and my feelings can’t be hidden if I tried. I want my children to be able to think for themselves. My goal is to show them how to stop and think things through, or just think at all.