Lifestyle

Encouraging exploration gives child a sense of autonomy

WHEN a child hits toddlerhood, most parents realise this when a child starts to say "no".

This is a very exciting and important stage for any child because this is when they have first started to realise that they are separate from their parents.

Before this, many toddlers see themselves as being one and the same thing as their care providers.

However these care providers aren't always very good at fulfilling these whims as and when the infant demands it, and the child will usually express this by saying things like "waaaaaaah!", loudly and clearly.

So realising that they have a power that is separate to their carers, they start to discover just what this power looks like.

They start to explore in a very active way, fulfilling their senses by touching and tasting all sorts of things like toys and spiderwebs, and household pets.

The toddler will also start to explore their social environment as well, seeing how much they can get away with, and discovering that certain behaviours get particular reactions from those around them.

It is amazing how well toddlers seem to be able to train their parents.

All of this behaviour from the toddler is leading towards developing a sense of autonomy; the belief that they have the power to do things by themselves.

It is the first noticeable exercise of decision making.

So what happens to the amazing developing toddler when they exercise this power and become shamed for doing so?

When the response from a parent, even a protective one, means that the toddler starts to feel that they are wrong for doing what they did.

At this delicate stage, it is a challenging task for a toddler to differentiate between "what I am doing is wrong", to "I am wrong for doing it".

A highly controlling parent may block the toddler from this physical, sensory, social and emotional exploration phase, leading to the child starting to doubt their ability to make decisions for themselves.

Rather than facilitating the toddler to explore, they may block the toddler.

It is here that we have the origins of an amazing concept called willpower.

Willpower is the ability to determine one's own destiny, and to face the consequences of our own decisions, even the painful ones.

A toddler who is continually frustrated will become wilful, or through sheer force of will, regardless of the consequences will push to gain whatever it is that they want in the moment, regardless of the consequences.

A toddler who sees that they can explore and take quality risks will develop instead to be willing, or able to make clean and clear decisions for their life.

Of course these very sophisticated concepts around willpower only really reveal themselves later on in life, often in adulthood.

Have a look at the adults around you.

Do you know anyone who is wilful and will just want to do whatever they want whenever they want, regardless of the consequences just to get their emotional needs of the moment met?

What about an adult who is able to make good decisions quickly, determine the risks and then take action. Such a person is willing.

Now take a look at yourself.

What happens to your sense of trust in yourself when you have to make a choice, when there are obstacles in your way?

Do you become wilful or willing?

It is essential that parents put healthy boundaries around children.

Yet a level of awareness of the crucial nature of this developmental phase is required, for the toddler to be able to develop a sense of autonomy and willpower, and to overcome the challenges of our sense of shame and doubt.

Paul Stewart is a Personal Coach with Compassion Coaching compassioncoaching.com.au, and also supports the inSight Men's Circle and Teen Tribe programs run through Hopelink 4979 3626.

Topics:  gladstone, man alive, opinion, parenting, paul stewart, toddler



Tannum man, 31, killed in Bruce Hwy smash involving truck

Car Crash Bruce Hwy

Traffic is being diverted through Gladstone

New gourmet burger lounge opens in Gladstone today

A burger on the menu at The Dock at East Shores.

The Dock at East Shores is now open

Big project for land and sea

Launch of new Land and Sea Rangers program. Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles with Sea rangers Dwayne Lingwoodock, Jessie Holland, Michael Willmot and Noah Saumalu. Dwayne explaining the local artwork on the marquee.

Government, industry partnership to boost jobs, help environment

Local Partners

Kim Kardashian West wants restraining order against prankster

She was attacked by Vitalii Sediuk for the second time in two years

Cliff Richard to release 101st album

Sir Cliff Richard's album cover

Sir Cliff Richard is to release his 101st album

CMC Rocks faces fan backlash over date change, headliners

The 10th annual CMC Rocks festival will be headlined by The Dixie Chicks.

FANS are not happy about festival being pushed back by two weeks.

Kim Kardashian West attacked by man trying to kiss her bottom

Vitalii Sediuk targeted Gigi Hadid last week

Madonna poses naked in solidarity with Katy Perry

Madonna posted her own nude selfie on Instagram

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

'Flex muscles': Gladstone suburb drops $120K

BUYERS are scooping unprecedented deals by “flexing their muscles at the table”

Few bright lights for property after mining downturn

The Gladstone Regional Council wants associated LNG companies like Bechtel to be apart of the EIS housing accommodation strategy from the outset of the projects and not mid-way through.

Tannum Sands continues to write its own property success story

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Market opens as Gladstone sellers drop prices to force sale

VENDORS are dropping the price on houses to force a sale.