The day I witnessed my toddler have more sporting ability than my wife, I knew the work I had been putting in with him had been paying off. My son has just hit the 18-month mark, which I must say, has been the best part of his development thus far. I finally have a little mate, compared to the blob-like, milk consuming, excretory factory he was in his earlier months.
I come from a sporting background and was once told by a mate that you have to wrestle with your son to make sure he likes the physical nature of activity and doesn’t grow up being too soft. This has always stuck with me, as I wanted Ted to be able to throw a mean cut-out pass, enjoy a few bum taps and learn to sand-paper the right side of the ball without being caught.
So, I got into wrestling with Ted early – pinning him down, blowing raspberries on his belly and pretending to eat his feet and hands etc. Sometimes he would walk towards me and I would meet him and crash tackle him into the couch – obviously controlling the amount of contact – I’m not putting a State of Origin hit on a toddler (even though some nights I really felt like it). I started to see real engagement from Ted as he enjoyed the time we spent together and he seemed to like a little bit of the rough and tumble environment.
However, I have now come to the realisation that perhaps I started this too early.
Last week I had my first parent-teacher chat at the end of childcare. “Teddy has been biting the other kids and he tried to smash a bucket on top of Jacinta’s head”. Dear Lord. I have unearthed Hannibal Toddler. I watched Ted from afar one afternoon at day-care, as he honed in on Leo’s leg like a hungover bloke on a 2 piece feed at KFC. I am now in full reverse mode, trying to get Ted to be gentle with others and to defer his canines from human flesh back to only food.
I noticed a question on the ATYD Facebook Group about how early you can get your toddlers into sports. From 9 months old I had Ted learning how to throw and kick balls. They have ranged in sizes and shapes since, and he loves it! Now at 18 months, he is starting to develop a seriously nice throwing technique. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been reflected in his catching abilities, which currently are very similar to Perth – 3 hours behind. It is not uncommon for me to lob a ball at Ted and see that ball hit him in the face, roll down his chest, hit his foot and roll underneath the couch before he has even realised that I have thrown the ball – very much a work in progress.
Similar to the rough and tumble, I may have also mistakenly created a human catapult. Ted now picks up anything and everything and tests his Shot Put PB with mum’s phone, dad’s iPad and photo frames. Although it’s nice to see his throwing progress, it is also very expensive when the iPad lands on the kitchen floor instead of the carpet! Who else has a wife with a Makita phone case made for industrial building sites?
Reflecting on this, I still wouldn’t change the way in which I have parented. I enjoy the fact that my son is into physical activity and that he has begun to engage his gross motor skills of throwing. However, like all things, we need to reinforce the boundaries when the activity takes place. Only throwing balls, not objects and only play wrestling with dad and not with other toddlers. This is a great part of parenting and also the most testing part of parenting. Don’t plan from a problem that doesn’t exist, just get amongst it and see what happens and deal with anything that arises. I say get your toddlers into sports as soon as they possibly can.