Adding a new baby to your family is an adjustment for everyone, but your toddler might feel it the most. Leaving behind the "parent-attention-monopoly" she was used to, she might not know how to navigate the post-baby "parent-attention-sharing" world. Consequently, acting out for attention may ensue.
To ease the transition, show your toddler some love by spending ten minutes of quality time talking about her day. If you don't know where to start, here are five questions that move WAY past "How was your day?" and work in conversations with kids as young as two.
- "What was the best part of your day?" or "What made you happy today? A variation on the "Rose/Thorn" conversation starter, framing the question this way helps it make sense for younger children.
- "What did you do today to make someone happy?" or "How did you help someone today?" This conversation starter also opens the door to topics such as service, empathy, and helping others. The selfish instinct is strong for toddlers; talking about others early on is a good habit.
- "Was there anything hard about your day? or "Was there anything that made you sad today? Learning to identify and process emotions is key for growing up. It might take a few months of asking (and practice labeling emotions) for your toddler to recognize and remember an instance of frustration or sadness. Yet, identifying "I was sad today" is the first step to healthy emotional processing.
- "Who did you spend time with?" or "Who did you talk to today?" Particularly useful when your child spends time outside of your home. This helps your child remember people as an important part of her day and also helps YOU understand and know the friends influencing your child.
- "What do you think you can do better tomorrow?" The concept of trying again is a good bridge to discuss resilience with your child down the road. It might be difficult to comprehend for the very young, but parent-modeling ("I didn't have much patience with XYZ today. Tomorrow, I am going to try again to be patient.") will teach your child that we are not perfect, and that's okay.
Not only will these five questions enhance your connection with your toddler, but they will improve the other relationships in your life as well! The next time you feel yourself going down the "How was your day? Fine" pre-fab conversation track, step back, take ten seconds, and then reframe the question to have a more meaningful conversation with those who mean the most to you.