A different kind of arrival

I’m talking about the two’s.  The terrible two’s.  I used to think this was a saying that was setting parents up for failure.  I used to think, well of course it will be terrible if you assume it’s going to be terrible.  So I walked into this period of development with eyes wide open (or, perhaps shut is more accurate) to the various behavioral possibilities.  K has been an enormously low-key and pleasant kid so I thought, how bad can it be?

Many parents of toddlers that I have talked to recently have all had similar things to say about the “terrible two’s.”  It came on fast, and and it came on intensely.

Such has been the experience with K gaining a sense of autonomy and control over his pint-sized world.

Sometimes, while dealing with hitting, yelling, and pouting, I can’t help but think where in the world has my child gone? Those are the more melodramatic days though, because despite some tantruming, compared to some other kids I’ve witnessed he is still really quite good!  He listens (most of the time) to directions, does what is asked of him, and is really pretty pleasant and hammy.  But, as with many kids his age, he’s got a low frustration tolerance.  So he tends to respond accordingly.

In light of this change in behavior, however, here are some things I have learned about how to deal with an unruly toddler:

1. Give choices (no more than 2 or it is overwhelming); they will involve the same “end” if you will (that being, whatever it is that mom wants you to do), but your toddler still feels like he has some control over the situation.  Ex: “you can walk up the stairs like a big boy by yourself, or mom can carry you if you’d like.”  Usually he picks walking himself, but the boy is still going up those stairs.

2. Nothing (or maybe, almost nothing) is so important that it cannot be stopped momentarily to interrupt a tantrum.  If we are out in public, not giving K the opportunity to hold people hostage while he freaks out is important.  I am perfectly okay with picking him up and removing him from a situation until he can calm down.

3.  And when he can’t calm himself down, you better believe we will be leaving.  Because honestly, at that point he is probably either overtired, overwhelmed, overstimulated, or possibly all three.  Staying anywhere to prove a point or try to teach a lesson is simply not worth it, because you may find that you don’t get very far.  Or at least, I don’t.

4.  “Quiet time” is a wonderful thing.  And sometimes, it’s not even really for the kid.

In short, this is all normal, which I have to remind myself at times.  At this age, kids are developing a sense of self-awareness and control; they want what they want, and do not necessarily understand when things don’t go their way.  Really, toddlers are just the inner-most parts of our adult selves that we’ve learned how to tame and control, because it is socially unacceptable as adults to throw ourselves on the floor and yell when we’re frustrated.  As adults then, we have to use those moments the best we can to teach.  And when you can’t, well, there’s always quiet time.

 

so much patience…or something

You know those days where you think to yourself: “Child…today is the day.  I’m going to kill you.”?  I don’t mean literally, so please don’t call CPS on me.  But it’s that exasperated thought that only comes after the 8th temper tantrum in a row while out in public, after you’ve tried quiet-time, nap-time, “any-time-you-can-think-of-to-quiet-this-kid-down” time, after your kid has (after performing an adorably hammy routine at dinnertime) deliberately picked up a fistfull of food – and flung it in your face.  Yeah, that thought that comes after all of that.

…Cause I’ll tell ya, mommy didn’t get a naptime today either, and she’s not diggin’ it.

Lord oh lord, it was the day of days.  We have officially hit the “terrible two’s.”

You know that blog post I did a couple weeks ago, where I mentioned that I told a mom I worked with that I thought she was doing a really good job, after watching her teenage daughter throw an enormous temper tantrum?  Thankfully, that kindness was returned to me amidst the madness.  During lunch out, a man had been watching me attempt to patiently deal with K’s numerous tantrums and eventual lobbing of his water bottle over the banister of the outdoor patio we were on (and into the adjacent river); he told me what I had told this other mom, which was that I was a good mom and doing a good job.  He then shared an anecdote with me about raising children and grandchildren of his own.  It was very nice and I’m sure he knows how appreciated it was, because the timing was impeccable.

Some days, toddlers are hard.

I try very hard to be patient, and I think I can often achieve this end.  Some days though, this is an easier task than others.  And some days, like today, you pick your child up, put him up over your shoulder (or under your arm, or whatever your mode of transportation is for a tantruming 32-pound human being), bring him outside, and let him sit on a stool and have a fit while you sit next to him and wait for the storm to pass.  Then you ask him if shrieking, or talking like a big boy will fix the situation.  He sits and looks at you, eventually shakes his head no, sighs a little two-year-old upset sigh, and asks to go back inside the cafe.

And you do the whole routine again until finally you realize it’s time to just pack it up and go home.

Tonight, he went to bed at 6:30pm after the food-flinging episode.  And I bet, because he’s so worn out from all of the fit-pitching, he’ll sleep till 7am.

Some days, as hard as it is being a mom, I have to remind myself that it’s also hard being a toddler.  I’d probably be frustrated too if I couldn’t communicate exactly what I wanted to.

So, if anyone wants to share their “difficult toddler moments,” go for it 🙂  Honestly, K is a really good boy so I don’t feel like I can complain too much, but I’ll tell you, today was a challenge…