The backwards back bend of all-knowing toddlers – if you know, you know

While at the Central Park Zoo with Kaia’s friend Jacob and his parents on Sunday, we were exchanging notes and laughs about all the interesting things that we’ve learned as parents to a young toddler… like how smart they get very quickly regarding how to escape certain situations, whether that’s hair brushing or getting into a stroller when they don’t want to. Jacob’s parents were trying to put him in his stroller, and he didn’t want to get in. So on top of yelling and crying to indicate he didn’t want to, he also did the infamous backwards back bend/back arch that we all detest; Kaia does this when she wants to walk and refuses the stroller, and also when I am trying to comb her hair and she doesn’t want to (does she ever…?!). We all called it out and laughed at it at the same time because we were all too familiar with that back bend move.

Of course, it’s cute, and it’s a way that our toddlers are showing us that they are have strong opinions that may not always align with ours. But it’s nevertheless extremely frustrating in the moment and made even more infuriating when it’s in public, where everyone is watching your defiant child and you battling said defiant child. But, I suppose it’s something that in some way we should be happy about. Children shouldn’t always be obedient all the time; they should have opinions and different perspectives, and they should want to assert themselves even when their parents don’t want them to. As my friend said, “Our kids aren’t guai guai (Chinese for “good/obedient) like we were when we were their age.” But she also noted something else that’s true: we don’t really run our households like our parents did, and we aren’t parenting with the notion of instilling fear in our kids, nor do we want to. We’ve seen and felt the negative ramifications of that for sure.

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