Do Toddlers Need More Attention than we Give?

This article is written by guest blogger and friend Neha Srivastava. She is a mum to four fur babies and a prolific writer.

This comes not from a mother but an aunt of a preschooler. My niece is now four years old and would start attending kindergarten this year. Her mom is a working woman who sent her little toddler, all of a-year-and-a-half old, to the creche when she decided to resume working.

              The little girl has grown 12 hours-a-day for two-and-a-half years in a creche under the guidance of a nanny. She learnt a lot of great things there, including her toilet-training!

              However, what pushed me to write this piece is her need for attention which seemed chronic when I met her this time, almost after close to two years.

              The child is now very vocal, which is a great thing under normal circumstances. However, between 2 to 7 years is the pre-operational stage according to Piaget. It is during this period that children form their own symbolic associations and learn language to express themselves better. It is during this period that they need maximum parental attention.

              The lack of her mother’s attention due to her absence during the daytime has made my niece hyperactive. She craves her mother’s attention to the extent that she stays awake till way past midnight only to talk with her mother.

              Since my sister’s husband is posted in another city for more than a year now, it makes matters worse. Language aided my niece to express her inner thoughts to me in a fairly straightforward but heart-wrenching  way.

              She asked me, “Maasi (aunt), could you come with us when we go back to our hometown? I feel very lonely and I have no one to play with. Mumma goes for work.”

              I was totally dumbstruck by her words. A small kid of four was talking about loneliness. I asked her if she had friends at the daycare. To this she said, “I have but they don’t love me and play with me like you do!!!”

              Obviously, this meant that even her mother was unable to spend quality time with her.

              Some other things I noticed in my niece is that apart from being hyperactive, she is also extremely aggressive. If things are not done her way, she becomes violent. Also, despite being extremely friendly, she will ‘unfriend‘ you as soon as you don’t pay heed to her demands.

              My sister has been feeling this change in behavior and consequently, she is planning to quit her job. It is now that her child needs her attention the most.

              Quitting the job may not be an option for several mothers, especially single mothers. And that is not what this article is about. However, mothers of children in the pre-operational stage might find it worthwhile in making extra effort in spending quality time with their little bundles of joy.


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