“Life always seems easier when we give in and let the kid dictate.” Or so I claimed just last week. Of course, that doesn’t always look like the best idea. Like when the kid is exhausted and crabby and keeps changing his mind. In those moments, the best approach is a mix of determination and distraction, with an emphasis on clear, simple goals. Like: “Right now we are going to take a bath and then put on pajamas. Ooh, are you going to pick out one of your new pull-ups after bath?!?
In general, though, taking my own advice has been the parenting challenge of the week, and it’s going well. Letting the kid dictate means making meals you know he’ll eat (salty and sweet ground meat over rice, say), baking spur-of-the-moment blueberry muffins on Sunday because he mentions the idea, and in general doing what all those child-led learning advocates are probably talking about.
Letting Leo take the lead, whenever possible, means making time for him in our busy days. It means including him in decisions about how our family functions when we can be flexible—or even absurd (underwear on head while folding laundry, check). And it means giving him a sense of his own importance in our family. Which is not a stretch, considering that we totally adore our kid.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.