If someone asked me today, what is one thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom it would be patience. 100%. I never felt like I was an impatient person growing up, but wow! Doing life with with a child has for sure tested my patience. I have failed miserably a lot of the time, but I’m slowly seeing the positive results it has on my daughter when I am practicing patience.
We are a little over 3 months in our toddler year 2, and this is the best stage yet! I dreaded the “terrible twos” that are always spoken of. I thought there was just no way around the childs madness. You just ride out the train for a whole year. I knew I couldn’t handle that without losing my sanity, so I had to find a way to handle situations as they happened.
So far, we have handled our outbursts of anger and tantrums. I haven’t really wanted to write about the terrible two’s, because I figured maybe it just hasn’t hit yet. And maybe it hasn’t. I could very possibly be writing again later on telling you that I’m lost and nothing I’ve tried works! haha! Honestly, I don’t feel like I know all the answers or even some of them. This is only my first child and have we really gotten to that stage yet to even learn something? But for now, I want to share what seems to be working for us and help any of you moms out there struggling with the same situations.
One thing I’ve learned to assess through her behavior is her heart. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” Luke 6:45. The way my daughter acts and speaks comes from her heart. So based on what she says and how she acts I can tell where her heart is. As her parent, I am here to shepard her heart and protect it. I’m currently reading “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp and four chapters in I’m already learning how the results of my child’s behavior is impacted from what she is holding in her heart. When Kate acts out, time stops for me. Nothing else matters at that moment than to stop, get down on her level, get her attention and talk to her. Patience. So much inside of me wants to act back because we are late, I am frustrated already, the day hasn’t gone as planned, to me she is acting ridiculous, etc. But at that moment, whatever it may be whether she is upset, doesn’t understand what is happening, is tired, or overstimulated. The list goes on with the emotions of a toddler. It is an important moment of how I respond to her as to whether it escalates or resolves the situation.
Multiple times I’ve failed at my responses to her when my frustrations are too strong to calm myself enough before I can calm her too. I get too caught up in my life that its easier to just ignore her behavior rather than address it, but that doesn’t solve anything. It bandaids it until the next outburst. When I do handle her emotions correctly, I give her my attention. I get face to face with her and I talk to her. I don’t baby talk, I speak to her correctly in a grown up manner. I give her a chance to calm down and then I allow her to talk to me. It is truly amazing to see how quickly her attitude changes by simply giving her my calm attention and allow her to speak her emotions rather than scream and kick. That’s another reason I love this stage. She can talk back! Even when she was younger before she could speak words that I understood, I still allowed her to talk and I would just wing it and talk back. What I found most important through all of this is that she knows she matters to me. Her emotions matter to me. Her heart matters to me. Her actions matter to me. Kids want to be noticed. She needs to know she is important just as much as we, adults, want to know we are important.
Another way that reduces our outbursts is options. Most of the time I try to give my daughter options to choose in a situation. I let her choose between two outfits, or two pairs of shoes. I let her choose if she wants me to help her or let her do things herself. That not only allows her make a decision, but it also prepares me for the situation. When I know we are leading up to something that she hates doing, I like to prepare her for it. For example, for some reason she hates riding in a grocery cart. Every time I try to put her in one she screams and and tries to get out. I tried to handle those situations by doing what I stated above, but it didn’t work. Then I would just cave and hold her while pushing the cart too! Other times I might let her walk, if I had 3 hours to spare….. One day we had to go to Wal-Mart. I had gotten her out of the car and was holding her while we walked in. I took that time to tell her that when we got inside she would need to sit in the cart while I pushed her around because I had several things I had to get and I couldn’t carry her. It worked!! God, if you told me to warn her beforehand, thank you! I don’t know where it came from, but as a mom you just run out of options sometimes haha! Ever since that day, she gets in grocery carts like it is nothing!
That is just one scenario that has happened recently where I was caught off guard by her response. I think it helps kids to know what to expect. It’s so easy to just tell her to do something because I said so or carry her around everywhere without her knowing why. Just like us, kids like to know why. That is another stage slowly approaching, I’m sure. The “Why” stage.
Summing all of that up, here is what has worked for us so far:
- Get down on their level.
- Get their attention by asking them to look at you.
- Speak to them in full sentences and not in baby talk.
- Ask your toddler why they are upset.
- Listen to them.
- Acknowledge their emotions.
- Explain to them about the situation to allow them to understand what is happening.
- Love on them.
- Use this opportunity to teach them.
- Explain the situation before it happens to prepare them.
- Give them options to choose.
- Keep them informed.
To the Mom of a Toddler:
You are doing a great job. You are doing the best you know how. Being a mom doesn’t come with a manual. Our children are all different. You are going to go through trying stages of life with your toddler. Just keep swimming. There is so much education out there to guide us in different ways to help our kids who are full of different personalities. When you are feeling lost of what to do next. Pray. God guides and directs our paths. He wants to help us understand the hearts of our children. He brings us peace and understanding when our world seems to be spiraling out of control. You are your kids biggest fans. They love you even in the midst of their outburst of anger towards you. You are the best mom to your kids. Nobody else can do a better job than you are doing right now. You are their mom for a reason.
What are some things you’ve done to help get you through some of the temper tantrums? Are there any scenarios you can think of that you handled a potentially dramatic situation from getting out of control? What methods have you learned and implemented into your life that worked? I’m always ears for suggestions! Share your experiences in the comments below.