Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taking a toddler to the park

If there's one thing I've learned about living with a toddler, it's that he and I are both happier if he's outside. Inside, I'm constantly chasing him away from things he shouldn't play with (whether its because they're choking hazards or just too easy for a curious and industrious toddler to destroy) and it feels like he and I are at odds all day long.

Not so when we're outside. The only limits I put on him outside is that he can't stick random things in his mouth (unless I approve them) and he isn't allowed to kill himself. That's it. If he wants to run around, he can run around. If he wants to hit rocks and clumps of grass with a stick, he can do that. If he wants to scream, he can scream.

This way of being especially easy to live by in a large, open park where he's a fairly safe distance from cars. Then, we can really open up and just let him go.

The rules are simple: we follow him and let him make the choices of what we're going to do. We don't try to drag him to any playground equipment or do anything that would stop him from just enjoying himself. He'll find the things he wants to play with all on his own.

We can't always give him complete autonomy, so when the opportunity presents itself, it's truly nice to let him make the choices for awhile.

The crux of this being that we don't let him out of our sight; that's the rule for when he's playing outside, especially in strange or open places. Luckily, he's usually content to drag us around with him.

That's his new thing, actually; grabbing hold of one or two of our fingers and dragging us from place to place, pointing things out to us as we go in case we've missed seeing them.

It's a chance to relax and let him be in control for awhile, something that every toddler needs.

What have you done this week to allow your little ones a chance to be their own person and make decisions for themselves?

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