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Advice from a Toddler

How mommy blogger Janice Croze learns a lesson from her 2-year-old about success in expressing one’s feelings.

Personal growth is vital to success as a parent.

Owwwwie…owwie, owwie, owwie,” my 18-month-old daughter wails as if I had just slammed her fingers in the car door.

To punctuate her agony, she throws her head back and enters toddler rigor mortis.

She is certainly in pain and she wants the world to know it. But there isn’t one injured inch on her body. No, this display is to communicate suffering purely of the emotional variety.

A least 130 times a day, Olivia wails, “Owwwwie!” Sometimes it is because her seven-year-old brother has decided to see how hard he needs to bite her finger to make her cry. Sometimes it is because she has tumbled over the toys she has strewn all over the floor. But, most often, it is because she is tormented by some heartless adult foiling her toddler plans.

No, Olivia, you cannot walk on the kitchen table. No, Olivia, you cannot stick your finger in Mommy’s lipstick. No, Olivia, you cannot play with knives.

The world is an unfair place and no one feels its arbitrary cruelty like a frustrated toddler.

But what amazes me is how my young daughter recognizes that she is hurting inside and communicates that emotional pain with the exact same word that she uses to convey physical pain.

As adults, I am sure all of us have known that physical sensation of an indescribable ache in our chest when we have experienced loss or heartbreak. It truly hurts inside and yet we can’t reach the pain to comfort it away.

So what have my daughter’s insightful cries taught me?

When Olivia’s frustrations well up and she wails, “Owwwwie… Owwwwie,” I realize how intensely and sincerely our little ones feel their emotional pain. She is experiencing an inexplicable sensation of suffering, brought on by reasons beyond her understanding. All she knows is it hurts and she wants it to stop.

Her words grab me and pull me from my adult perspective, reminding me that she doesn’t understand. She needs patience and unconditional love. Learning hurts. Life hurts.

I wonder if that is how we sound to God sometimes, screeching from the pain of human experience. Does it break his heart just as it breaks mine? Is he also torn by the impulse to protect versus teach?

Emotional suffering can be just as piercing as physical pain. If you ever question that, let me know. I will send you a recording of my toddler kicking and screaming, “Owwwwie,” when the babysitter holds her as I tell her goodbye and close the front door.

Yes. Life hurts. Just ask my toddler.

Janice Croze is the co-founder of 5MinutesforMom.com. Visit her website for mom-friendly information, entertainment and support.

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