Use Your Words

Do you ever just feel like making some inarticulate screaming noises? Yes? I do. And so I have total sympathy for my toddlers when their feelings well up and they have to just let it out: low-key whining, flailing, screaming, or full-on wet-noodle tantrumming.

A lot of the time, I can cut off the crying loop if I interject to remind them that I would be very happy to help them but I can’t understand what they need if they’re whining; could they please use their words instead? It’s impressive how often this works. They can stop and say, “MAH CHOO-CHOO” or “NO-NO DOGGIE” or “MO DJOOSE” or “HEP PEEZ.” Of course, they’re at a stage where this trick only goes so far — a lot of the time, the source of their turmoil is as yet inexpressible to them. Still happens to me on the regular, honestly, so I get it.

There are a lot of things they can’t say yet — their own/each other’s names, for example. the names of some of their toys and books and of some of the foods they like. Usually, pointing and asking for “dat” is what helps. “Dat” book on the high shelf, “dat” box of crackers, etc. Several times recently, E&L have been playing together in the playroom when all of a sudden L bursts into tearful wails. When I ask him to try to tell me what’s wrong or what he needs, he just turns to his sister with angry tears in his eyes and points at her emphatically, “DAT.”

And that’s when I see that she has taken the structure he’s been painstakingly building out of his Mega Bloks and threw it on the floor and smashed it. “All my hard work!” “Why does she like to annoy me?!” “Now I have to re-build!” L isn’t able to express that all just yet, so an accusing point and an emphatic “DAT” are the best he can do. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t crack me up every time.

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