The Toddler Rules

A leisurely stroll with my daughter is never as leisurely as I wish it to be. She’s almost two years old and she’s beginning to exert her independence. When we’re out, she refuses to hold my hand and prefers to run wildly wherever she wants.

I’ve talked about how my little Beastmode’s mobility  influenced my choice of footwear. Her quickness makes me feel like an aging NBA player who doesn’t have much left in the tank. Scratch that – her quickness reminds me that I’m an aging man with rickety knees who has trouble keeping up with his toddler. This is why when I’m out alone with her, I like to deploy a strategy that was inspired by “The Jordan Rules.”

The Jordan Rules were a defensive strategy used by opponents on Michael Jordan. Players would push the boundaries of the rules as much as they could to slow down the greatest player ever including being physical with him, double-teams, and denying him the ball.

I’ve adapted The Jordan Rules to apply to “defending” my daughter. I’ve cleverly called this strategy, “The Toddler Rules.”

Rule I. Use Your Head

You want to use your brains as much as you can and reserve your brawn until it’s absolutely necessary. The way I see it, I’m defending a superior athlete. As the defender, I want to stay close then use a little bit of extra energy to close a gap or get a hand up to contest the unauthorized touching of strangers.

When I’m with my daughter, I have to pick my spots. I use that conserved energy to prevent her from running into traffic or being trampled by pedestrians.

Rule II. Be Physical

I sincerely hope no one takes that out of context. Just like the Bad Boy Pistons made Jordan feel their presence, you want to do the same with your toddler. I don’t mean knocking her down like Bil Lambier. Use a gentle guiding hand on her shoulder or reposition her to go in the right direction while removing that not-so-secret stash of rocks from her pockets.

Ok, phew. Survived that paragraph. I hope.

Rule III. Get in Her Head

Talking and letting my toddler know about expectations when we’re out helps shape her behaviour. “When we’re out, you don’t have to hold dad’s hand, but you do have to stay close,” or, “Dad’s trying to keep you safe so don’t run away.” She may not be able to talk yet, but she understands a lot.

Rule IV. Don’t be a Hero

If it’s not your day and you’re getting beat or your head’s just not in it, that’s ok. Live to fight another day. Don’t burn yourself out. Sometimes my daughter’s just not in the mood to listen. Rather than losing my head guiding her or providing the verbal cues, I just pick her up.  I know, easier said than done for most parents. There’s always candy. I think that worked on Jordan too.

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