It’s a cutthroat world in the land of Toddlerdom and we’re all just here for the ride. Thank God It’s Friday here on ParentalGrit! If you’re new here, welcome! I write a new post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so be sure to check back in frequently for the latest in all things family. Shoot us a follow via the social media links at the top of the main page and please forgive my Pinterest page as I flounder trying to figure out what that nonsense is all about. Anyways, let’s return to self-help for children! In 1989, Stephen Covey released his seminal book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; it was a smashing success and twenty years later is still considered a foundational piece in the self-help and business genres. We, however, are not concerned about ourselves today but rather the little ankle biters we decided to procreate. So what makes a toddler a toddler? And what does a Toddler Boss truly need to be successful?
It’s only natural for a hard-working, driven toddler to utilize a little delegation to maximize productivity and efficiently manage time. It’s a shock that many working adults struggle so much with delegating tasks when all children are inherently born with this skill. My daughters do an excellent job of delegating all of their bowel movements and clean-up to my wife and I. Why stop to use the potty when you’re playing when you can simply fill a diaper for daddy? Children are also extremely skilled at delegating all meals and cleaning to all other members of the household.
When one pontificates on what makes Toddler Bosses so effective and charismatic, it inevitably leads to a recognition of the awesome confidence children have. My daughter broods confidence as she throws her clothes and diaper into a heap and proudly trounces through our house, naked as can be. Going outside? She’s still trying to go naked. Grocery store? Naked. Children naturally exude a confidence to adult can touch.
Demonstrations of Authority
If a child really wants to be a successful toddler, he or she must be prepared to occasionally exert dominance over the surrounding environment. Like a peacock strutting its feathers or a baboon pounding its chest, the effective toddler must integrate abrasive, public shows of authority at the most inopportune times. If a child can’t have any candy going through the checkout line at the grocery store (thanks for nothing every grocery store ever), the only response must be kicking and screaming on the disgusting floor. Be loud. Be angry. Strut your authority!
Micromanagement has really been demonized in the adult world, but it absolutely has an essential place in the world of toddling. Should any child really believe that Mommy can use the restroom by herself? OF COURSE NOT. Mommy needs to be managed on the most intimate basis as possible. There are no restroom breaks. No unaccompanied showers. Daddy cannot take the trash out without also carrying a 1300 pound toddler gorilla. A truly effective toddler knows that he or she must be ever present to observe and assess.
Many might be surprised to see empathy somehow aligned with early childhood, but I believe it’s a natural fit for the high-functioning child. Empathy shows what a thoughtful toddler one can be, and what better way to show empathy than by creating situations in need of empathy. If you accidentally pull Mommy’s hair, it only creates an opportunity to empathize with the raging mother. My oldest daughter often rips a toy right out of her sister’s mouth, only to be extremely apologetic and caring for the now-bawling infant.
Every child needs a little creativity to fully express individuality and emotions. Rather than constrain this creativity to a notebook or drawing pad, a truly effective child recognizes that life is the real canvas; Sharpies belong on walls, food remnants can be shaped across mobile devices, and art can be performed anywhere and everywhere.
No child can be fully equipped without a strong negotiation toolbox. By rule, all children must resist and/or haggle all items of discussion. My daughter negotiates every item of her bedtime routine: how to brush her teeth, which toothbrush to use, how many books will be read, how many songs will be sung, how many kisses…the list goes on and on. And, as any good negotiator knows, stall tactics are an integral part of negotiating success. Bedtime is the perfect time to be hungry, need to pee, miss your sister, tell a story, or blabber incessantly about nothing in particular.
So there you have it, the seven highly effective habits of toddlers and children. My wish for you…is that your child possesses none of these. Good luck!