I have a little two-year-old granddaughter named Ella. She delights us, she inspires us…and I am sure her mother would add that she challenges us at times. She and her six-year-old sister, Ava, are the inspiration for many of my blogs. This past week, Ella added a new sentence to her ever-growing vocabulary—“Momma, I happy.” When my daughter called to tell me what she had said, my eyes and my heart filled with such emotion. What more could you want for your grandchild than for her to enjoy being a child, to feel the freedom to express her emotions openly, and then to feel confident that her mother would be interested enough to stop what she was doing to really hear her? My daughter had a teachable moment. She could have chosen to say, “Oh, okay…good.” Had she blown her off in this way, Ella would have received the message that her feelings do not matter. However, the next time she got Mommy’s full attention by crying because she wasn’t getting her way, she would conclude that screaming, crying, and/or anger are the emotions that receive attention. Instead, my daughter stated that she stopped, looked her in the eye, and said, “Ella, that makes Mommy smile that you are happy.” Remember that you reward what you want to see repeated. So for a week now, Ella has been expressing her happiness, and her mommy has been trying to not grow weary in acknowledging it each time. Those two-year-olds really love repetition! Next time your child has a special look of happiness on her face, let her know that you noticed. Tell her that it makes you smile to see her having fun. Express your emotions so that she is comfortable talking about hers. Remember that communication is the key to building and maintaining great relationships…and this is especially true with our young children.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers