Toddlers and yoga

Our little people have so much to teach and show us if we are receptive to it. Reflecting on todays expriences i realised my Tot, who is 2 yrs and 4 months, has shown me:

1. Memory!– I took her to my toddler class today along with my baby aged 7 months, who i normally teach with, but havent taught with Tot since before baby boy was born. I told hr she was coming to Mummys work, to yoga, but thats about all. When we arrived at the Studio, where she has never been before, she said ‘wheres Benji?’ . Benji is her friends who used to come to my first toddler yoga class in Chorlton, over a year ago! I hadnt even realised that she remembered life before baby came, and although we still see Benji, she knew that Benji was linked with going to a yoga class that is Mummy’s work! ( for her, yoga is something we do at home, and in the park, so its not just the yoga that sparked the association) I am amazed at her memory! And it shows me how important all their early expriences are in forming positive, or negative associations. So, how brilliant for any parent to create an early positive association around the word ‘yoga’. And instead of ‘have a rest’ which is what i usually call relaxation, i am going to start to use the word ‘relax’, to promote positive association!

2. Expectations and boundaries She coped very well with me teaching, and compared to a year ago when i last taught with her, she seemed less bothered by me giving me attention to everyone else. This is partly her age, and partly having a sibling now i think. However, the things that upset her were about ‘things’ that she either wanted to play with and couldnt reach herself, or that someone had, or tried to take off her. It’s easy to get irritated by a whiny toddler wanting to play with something you dont want them to have, or getting upset over what we percieve as a trivial sharing / not sharing situation. But these scenarios are very central in their development! As babies they needed to cry to get what they needed. As toddlers, they learn that there are many other ways, like talking, and positive or negative behaviours. I am ultra aware of my inconsistency at the moment because my Tot always makes me realise – by asking again and again where we are going, or what we are doing, sh is checking whether i will give the same answer- if the plans chang sh will accept a simple explanation but not several changes without proper reasons/ reasons she does not understand. So, using this understanding, i can see that she does not know the boundaries of posessing, sharing and wanting something that is out of her reach. I must help her to understand by being consistant, by explaining in simple terms, and by acceoting that sometimes she will find it hard to accept, but by ‘giving in’ i am making it worse for hr as i am changing the boundaries again without an explanation. For example, because she was whinging that she wanted a ‘big ball’, and this was starting during the relaxation, i was tempted to just give her one, even though i initially said no, and do not like these balls to be played with by the toddlers. But i did stick to a no, she later had a mini tantrum about this once everyone had gone, but i think this was also because she was in a new situation, tired, hungry and thristy, and unsure about what was coming next. The lack of a ‘big ball’ was just the straw that broke the camel’s back! So, being consistant is so important! And managing our toddlers’ expectations by setting boundaries.

Copying: When i last taught with Tot she would rarely copy the yoga poses or stretches during class, but often do so later at home. I think that i something that 1 yr olds do alot! They seem to pass out of the phase gradually from 2 plus, but still , 2,3 and 4 yr olds sometimes dont copy anything until the 2nd or 3rd class. I think it depends on personality, but also how much they see their parent (primarily), and others, joining in. A child visibly copying of course makes the experience of going to a toddler yoga class much more gratifying as you can see that they are taking it in! I try to say to Mums whose little ones may not join in the first time, or even the first few times, be patient- they are observing, watching you, and other children to see what’s expected, and give them space to copy in their own time! And when people ask me “whats the best way to teach my child to be calm?”- my answer is “show them!” No amount of yoga classes is going to teach this if they see Mum rushing round all day and never taking time to focus on her own energies/ have a stretch and some deep breaths! Oh, and although i didnt think sh was singing along during class, after class while i was packing up she was belting out all the toddler yoga songs!! So maybe vocal copying takes longer to become less delayed!

Im sure i will think of more!

J (: