The Two-Week Rule: The Secret to Chilling Out About Your Toddler’s Behavior

This too shall pass, right? That’s what they’re always telling us when things aren’t quite working out the way that we want them to. But if you’re like me — I like to think of it as curious, others have described it as a bit of a control freak — your first thought when you hear that old adage is: WHEN? When will it pass? Which is how I discovered the Two-Week Rule.

Our culture’s obsession with milestones and our own desire for relief from discomfort or assurance that we are not total failures as parents can have us desperately seeking solutions for problems that aren’t really problems at all. In fact, in my now six years as a mom, I’ve adopted the philosophy that most things work themselves out in about two weeks.

Quick note before I continue: I do believe that our parental intuition can alert us to things that may need investigation and am not suggesting that we ignore nagging suspicions, but I am notorious for suggesting that we could probably stand to chill out a little bit.

Here are a few tips to making the Two-Week Rule work for you and your littles:

Give it a name

I mean, we all know when there’s something our kid is doing that bothers or confuses us, but sometimes we don’t take the time to articulate exactly what it is or why it’s so frustrating. Some are obvious — frequent night waking, food aversions, hair pulling, and potty accidents, but others can be elusive.

Identifying the problem may help you identify that the problem is *cough, cough* you. (That non-COVID 19 cough is directed at my husband who gets annoyed with the shows our kids watch, but fails to realize that telling them that makes them want to watch the offending shows even more.)

Naming the issue will also point out its triggers and potential solutions. When my daughter was about 3-and-a-half, she went through a phase where she’d wake up between 1 and 3 a.m. every. stinking. night. When I laid the clues out in front of me, I realized that if I could break that sleep cycle, I could end the interrupted sleep. Sure enough, less than 10 days later, we were all much happier.

Give it some time

I’m not a medical professional, but I am willing to bet money that the more negative attention we give our children’s behavior or quirk, the longer it will persist. If no publicity is bad publicity, then no attention is bad attention in the developing minds of our precious babes. Removing feedback certainly doesn’t apply to violent behavior, but removing judgment of any kind is imperative when communicating with our children.

You know when your kid has that one T-shirt in her wardrobe that is obnoxious? And then she decides it’s her favorite and refuses to wear anything but the aforementioned Disney princess T-shirt? Well, chances are, if you don’t escalate your feelings about her insistence, she’ll move on a lot more quickly.

The point here is that our kids are more observant than we could ever hope to be. Their minds aren’t busy with meal planning or podcasts or work. In fact, their only job is to learn. They do that by somehow hearing every freaking word we say (which becomes a big issue when you can’t spell things aloud to your partner because they can now read), and by picking up on our emotions and body language.

Give yourself grace

I should likely name this the Two-ish Week Rule since sometimes things just take more time. (Sigh. I know.) But I’ve noticed that managing our own feelings and frustrations can go a long way in creating more patience and space for resolution.

And while even two weeks can feel like an eternity, giving yourself and your child that time and patience will not only make problems virtually disappear, it will help future issues seem a little less daunting. Especially since by the end of the two weeks, something new will pop up and you’ll find yourself frantically Googling “best closet exorcist in Jacksonville” or “why does my child only wear red and poop facing backward.”

Allie Leweke
Allie never would have guessed that she’d be calling Jacksonville, Florida home, but here she is! A midwest native, she’s lived in Indiana, New York City, Jax, Chicago and has now returned to the First Coast with her family—husband Jonny, two toddlers, Adair & Fitz, and an ageless cockapoo. Her professional history and range of passions is as all-over the map as her home bases. With degrees in musical theatre and journalism, Allie has worked both as Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleader (go ROAR!) and, most recently, a senior content strategist. She loves being a mom more than anything in the world (even wine) and is excited to be sharing the ups and downs of her journey with you.


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