Toddler in the Driver Seat

Posted on January 29, 2012



It is amazing the changes that children travel through their first few years of their lives. My son is 2.5 and I watch in wonderment each day we experience together. I have learned something lately that sometimes it is easier and, I believe, beneficial to his development, to allow him to take the driver seat literally and figuratively speaking.

It the guardians job to keep their children healthy inside and out: We must keep the mind growing, the body exercised and full of nutrition, the heart full of love, and the temperament happy and curious. We have to teach our children to understand their emotions with words and actions, we have to teach our children the difference between safe and unsafe choices, we have to open our children’s minds to learning and experimenting with endless talents, and me must teach our children to love unconditionally (this last one especially, is taught through direct behaviour demonstration). This is no easy feat but it is achievable if you include the children in discerning the direction of their learning.

Even at a young age my son exerts independence and, I admit, stubbornness (yes, he gets this from me but I am okay with that). He often says things like, “Let me do it,” “I want to do by myself,” “Let me try that,” “Let me see,” and “Let me drive.” When he says, “Let me see,” this is often following me telling him that something is “all gone” or “broken.” He must always check and determine if this is the truth on his own – It did take me awhile but I finally began to embrace taking the time to show him or let him “see” and this has taught him to accept things being done or broken with great calmness and certainty. Now, when my son says, “Let me drive,” I often have a difficult time making a decision with this one because we are usually in a rush somewhere. Now let me be clear, he just wants to sit in the driver seat and be like his mommy (car off of course). If I don’t let him he has a melt down, which actually takes 5 minutes to calm him enough to squish him into his car seat. And the reason I don’ t let him is because we don’t have the “time.” In reality, if I just let my son sit in the driver’s seat and feel like his is a big boy, it would take the same amount of time. My son gets to feel special, important, independent, and in control and I avoid a tantrum and get to watch my son teach himself boundaries and the buddings of responsibility (because we talk about safety first and approaching cars and road rules as he sits and pretends to drive).

When I encourage my son to teach me or lead me his whole aura changes and he learns about pride and being a leader. Some examples of this are, teaching me how to draw a dragon, leading the baking (showing me how to stir slowly), teaching me how to sneak or walk quietly, playing follow the leader and I follow, showing me how to find a stool to turn his bedroom light on, teaching me how to brush my teeth, and many more. This tactic can be applied to many daily activities and, I believe, is an important and actually sometimes the “easier” way to deal with potential tantrum situations.

So let go, and let your child drive!!