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August 25, 2007



While I still hold that Felix is more easy-going than Gab, one thing we did notice was that once Gab was able to communicate what he wanted, his tempers calmed down. For him, the bilingualism was really frustrating at first because he would speak one language at the crèche and then come home to another language and he didn't really know how to express himself. Then, one day, it just clicked and he was soon translating for people at the crèche! I think he still gets frustrated because it's true that his French is more developed than his English and although he understands everything we say, his communication abilities in English are still lacking a bit and on occasion (although much, much less so now) we still see a little bit of his character.

I also saw somewhere that at this age, between 18 months and 2 and 1/2 years, they really don't know what they want and that's why it's so important to set boundaries because not having any direction can really throw them off balance. In fact, paradoxically, they need boundaries, which can be in the form of choice. Part of the frustration is that they don't know what choices they have but at the same time their minds are starting to think independently, so they want to think but don't know what to decide, if that makes sense. Etienne and I were kind of thrown off balance when Gab started having a little character after being such an easy baby that it took us a few months to decide on how we were going to approach it. Once we started setting boundaries, such as bedtimes, places in the apartment he could and couldn't go, and giving him the choice at dinner such as if he didn't want his vegetables, there would be another healthy alternative and he could decide between the two- we saw a world of difference. The difference was also that Gab saw us, as parents, as his stability and since we were no longer wavering on how to educate him, we were more confident and so was he.


Thanks Andie! Based on your e-mail to me and your questions, I thought that the "choice" thing was new for you guys. I didn't realize you had been doing it.

I imagine the language thing could be difficult...especially at this age. Felix seems to be doing ok with this and switches easily from French to English. This month in the states he managed to pick up a bunch of new English words and still keep up with French which it is totally impressive! I do think he feels frustrated when he is trying to tell us something and we don't get it but so far it hasn't gone too far.

Felix also has a lot of boundaries set for him but I am not so worried about this aspect of things. We have been giving him limited choice for a long time now and he understands the system. My main concern is stepping in too much. I want him to experience the world and try things. If wants to try walking up the stairs alone, I am in to letting him do it. (With me right there of course.) This morning he wanted to carry something really heavy in from the grocery cart. Rather then make it difficult and tell him no, I let him try. He figured out in a few minutes that it was too heavy and let me take over, opting to carry something smaller.

When I talk about creative thinking, I am thinking about expanding the way we already do things. As you know, we feel very confident in our parenting. Personality or ease is one aspect but it is not everything and so far we feel pretty good about how we do things. Like you apparently, we are constantly talking about the next step and how we are going to approach it. It is such a fascinating subject. I want to make things as positive as possible so I need to be on my toes thinking of new ways to deal with situations.


We have been giving Gab choices ever since he was 18 months old- mostly at mealtimes- and even with that, it's just his character that we've had to struggle with. Finally, we've found that Gab is a child who needs to know his limits, so we've tried to work with that by setting boundaries in a positive way.

Our problem with stepping in is taking the time to allow him to spend 5 minutes putting on his shoes or walking up the stairs- we're usually in such a hurry that we don't have the patience it takes to wait. But, we're working more and more on that to not step in too much and to allow him to discover the world. Just recently, when we are at the store or in a park, I actually have made a big step and allow Gab to wander a lot further than I would usually allow him to because he is 3 and I know he is ready to be a little more independent. I remember over a year ago, when Gab was Felix's age and I was with Irene and she let her boys go play in the park while we were sitting in a café and I thought to myself, Gab will never be that independent. But, now he is and part of that is because we are constantly forcing ourselves to not step in and to let him discover things.

Now we are confident, but let me tell you, about a year ago we weren't! Last summer was spent wondering 'Where did our nice baby go?' I think we constantly have to question ourselves about what we are doing and be open to new ways and new ideas because too much confidence in a certain way of doing things could lead to closed mindedness to an option that might actually be good. While we are confident now, we still reserve a part of our methods to 'undecided' so that we can learn from others and maybe learn from our own mistakes as well, because as parents, we all make them.


I find that you are right...it is such a delicate balance between stepping "over" and stepping "in" to help out a child. I think it is ingrained in our culture and our minds to not be comfortable with watching someone struggle or get frustrated. I know it's hard for me to watch...I just want to fix it! But I try to literally sit on my hands or distract myself so I'm not always helping Kaia in this way. I will sometimes direct her vocally (i.e. turn the puzzle piece around, pull a little harder...) but she's usually really good about finally breaking down and asking for help. Mostly, I just say "Kaia, you can do it. Just try, just try" and I find she actually listens and attempts.
Interesting discussion...

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