Some parents begin to think that toddlers shouldn’t be held as much as they were holding their babies a few months ago. I think that’s largely a misperception. Toddlers still need a lot of holding. Think of life from their perspective; they’ve just discovered a whole view of the world from their legs instead of their knees. They can see more, climb more, explore more – which is heady and fun stuff but scary to them when they touch more things that go “crash” and break or fall and thump. They need reassurance that where their brains are taking them is safe. They need more explanations of the new encounters they don’t understand. And they need holding and nurturing so they feel safe and can go back out there and explore some more.
Why They Need “Arm Time”
They need reassurance that where their brains are taking them to is safe.
They need explanations for the new experiences they don’t understand.
They need holding and nurturing so they feel safe and can go back out there and explore some more.
Toddlers still have “needs” for closeness and holding.
Toddlers are not as independent creatures as they may seem at times.
Toddlers are still very young and holding, when they ask for it, is still important to do with a generous heart.
Parents are feeding their child’s self-esteem, confidence, trust, and sociability by holding them when they ask for it.
A child usually asks for holding when they need some security, closeness and human connection.
The world is still a pretty foreign place to them and that need for human connection, to feel secure, and to feel safe is important to their developing beings.
If you hold a toddler with resentment or mixed feelings, the toddler will feel your unwillingness and that may make him feel more insecure and want to be held more – so when you do hold your child, hold your child lovingly, willingly and with compassion and a desire to give that child exactly what she needs.
I think toddlerhood is too young to stop a child from asking for “uppys” – it’s a time to willingly give uppys. If your child is too heavy for you, then tell your child you’d love to cuddle with him on the couch or in a comfy chair instead of holding him as you walk around the house. But give your child the cuddles if he/she is asking for them. You’re nurturing your child and it’s good for your child to get those needs for nurturing met. If it feels like it’s “too much” for you, ask yourself if you’ve been ignoring or neglecting your child’s requests for other kinds of attention, or pre-occupied with work/personal things and unable to give your child as much as your child needs. If so, realize that your young child needs a lot from you. When you became a parent, hopefully you signed on for becoming and being a great parent, not just a barely adequate one. Feel good that your child feels safe enough to ask you for “uppys.”
Also remember – this parenting thing goes really fast. Before you know it your child won’t be asking for “uppy” anymore. And before you know it you’ll be fondly remembering the cuddly times and wishing your child wanted more cuddles.
By adolescence, you won’t be cuddling nearly as often and that comes sooner than you think when you’re looking at your toddler and wondering if your body will ever be yours again.
Joanne BaumAbout the Author:
Joanne Baum, PhD, LCSW, has been a therapist, parenting coach, educator, and writer for over thirty years. Her latest book, Got the Baby . . . Where’s the Manual?!? won the 2007 IPPY Gold Medal in Parenting. You can find more information on her website at www.respectfulparenting.com.