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Impulse Control

Author: Kate Hayes
Published Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Let's talk about impulse control … or in my daughter’s case, the lack of impulse control. Annabel is now 14 months old. She is interested in and mobile enough to get into anything and everything. She has the impulse control of, well, a toddler.

Nothing is safe! If she can pick it up, it goes in her mouth. If she cannot pick it up, she will stick her hands (and feet) into it. If she deems it even reasonably steady, she will climb it. While eating, she likes to mush, smash and throw food, and run her messy hands through her hair.

Our days together seem to be getting busier and longer, and my patience is getting shorter. I remind myself that even though I have corrected and redirected Annabel from a seemingly dangerous activity multiple times today, she is not repeating the activity again just to irritate, spite or test me. She is curious, the world is fascinating, and her impulse is to explore.

Babies learn by touching, tasting and interacting with things. The other day, she thought standing in the dog’s water bowl would be fun. I redirected her to her ball pit, and we happily played for a while. As soon as she was done playing with the balls, she went right back to the dog dish, and I had to redirect again. I know setting consistent boundaries is important for Annabel, and I need to calmly respond based on what I know about toddler development; but sometimes, I feel like I have a rebellious teenager on my hands who is testing to see just how far she can push me.

Annabel may not have mastered impulse control, but I have. If I am feeling frustrated or annoyed by her constant activity, I can remind myself that she is doing what toddlers do. I can talk myself out of being irritated. I can be the loving mother that I want to be, helping Annabel safely explore the world around her.

I can also control the number of times I have to redirect Annabel by safety-proofing the house. When Annabel first started to crawl, my husband and I blocked off the top of the stairs and gated access to the kitchen. We placed plug covers in the wall sockets, and we even moved things off the bottom shelves of our bookcases. We safety-proofed for a baby, but we now have a toddler! Annabel is taller, and she can pull up and cruise and walk. She has discovered she can go up the stairs, and she figured out how to open the gate and let herself into the kitchen. She can even climb onto her toy box to reach higher shelves.

There is truly no going back. So, I will revisit the Safe Home booklet, put new safe guards in place and try to control my impulse to wish away too soon this busy and exciting phase of Annabel’s development.

About Kate Hayes

Kate Hayes lives in Virginia Beach, VA and is a first time parent to Annabel – born on July 22, 2015. Kate is a yoga and aerial fitness instructor. She especially enjoys teaching on the beach, and is certified in laughing yoga, and prenatal yoga. Kate and her husband, Robert, enjoy spending time with their daughter and their two dogs.