As Toddler Ren moves from the terrible twos and into the tyrannical threes, she has been learning that tantrums get the attention of the grown-ups. Combine that with her frustration that she hasn’t mastered English nor Spanish, and it makes for some moments that are trying, to say the least. I’m not going to lie to you: some of those times were very hard.
Lately, we have been doing a breathing technique. I take her in my arms and tell her to look at me. She raises those big sad eyes filled with fake tears (she really sells the suffering over not getting a chocolate bar) and looks at me. Then I tell her to take a deep breath with me. We take our deep breaths are things are better… For the both of us.
Sometimes, as parents, we forget to take a minute and understand what is going on with our children. We forget that they’ve only been on this planet for a short period of time and that their brains haven’t caught up with everything yet. Toddler Ren doesn’t understand all the nuances of language, and it is even harder for her to understand the nuances of Spanish when 99% of what she hears and speaks is English. Likewise, she doesn’t understand schedules and deadlines. She probably wonders why we don’t understand her, why can’t just do as she says.
As we have been practicing our breathing, I’ve come to understand how much I should have done that in my life. There were far too many times when I panicked — even for a few seconds — and acted without thinking, said things without thinking. I should have breathed — even for a few seconds — and let the prefrontal cortex do its thing.
But, hey, I have an opportunity here to make things right by teaching Toddler Ren that breathing is important, and that she should think and then act.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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