Having thankfully got past the toddler stage with Lucas, now five, I am now starting all over again with my newly turned two year old, Ava, (sobs into my laptop that my little lady is no longer my little baby!)
I’m lucky Lucas didn’t have rolling around the floor, hitting out tantrums but he FOR SURE had his fare share of meltdowns, mostly due to frustration. He was not ‘naughty’ as such, just strong willed, sensitive, dramatic and loved to trash every room he entered. Lucas’s paddy’s would usually be due to building blocks falling down, not wanting to wear a certain pair of shoes or refusing to walk down the road or sit in his pushchair/trolley (you know that horrendous fight you have when trying to place your kid in the supermarket trolley seat, they are kicking/screaming/won’t sit whilst your arms are aching from lifting them up and down.. Yep, those..) He got bored extra easily so has always needed constant entertainment (sound familiar mums of boys?!) I truly adore being a parent but I admit some days would be a nightmare and I found him hard work.
Lucas has chilled out a lot since he started school and is a lovely little boy, although the toddler tantrums have now been replaced with an attitude. He remains sensitive and dramatic (which he puts to good use at theatre school every Saturday) and meltdowns happen just on the odd occasion. A few weeks ago for example, not wanting to leave the park and a while before that absolutely losing his shit because he got a tiny bit of grass in his eye.
Ava has just entered her second year on this earth and what they call the ‘terrible twos’. So far, she is easier than her bro, although I do realise the real fun is yet to come. She genuinely is an absolute delight to parent but sometimes can be a little whingebag, needs constant attention, likes to get her own way and definitely doesn’t like it when we say no (my other half says she is just a typical woman. Cheers love!)
I am a relatively calm, easy going patient person and it takes a lot for me to ‘lose it’. I am of course not an angel and NO expert at all but I have jotted down some of my best tips and helpful hints I have learnt over the years to survive the toddler tantrums.
- Don’t be naive. No it’s not always the parents fault their toddlers are ‘naughty’ and yes your child will have their moments too! As a parent, be ready for it.
- Understand it’s normal. Growing up and going from a baby to a child is difficult as everything is so new and confusing. They are discovering proper emotions and are not mature enough to deal with them – resulting in some outbursts and frustration.
- Remember kid’s aren’t robots – Just like us, they have good and bad days. Your child may be tired, feeling poorly, hungry, bored or just in a bad mood. Sometimes it’s better to pick your battles, listen and talk to them like a real person instead of imposing immediate discipline. Sorting a simple problem may result in the situation not turning into full blown chaos.
- Zone out. Sometimes our kids just like to play up or whinge for the sake of it, there isn’t anything particularly wrong. Us mama’s know there is NOTHING more annoying than the sound of your own kid wining. On these occasions, try your hardest to ignore/smile/get on with your day. They’ll get bored eventually and realise their behaviour isn’t getting them anywhere. Mum’s everywhere (me included) can use up too much energy shouting and battling with a toddler, it usually makes everything worse.
- Distraction is key. Many will disagree with this, but I have found it has helped us greatly. I don’t mean distraction by buying them a new toy but talking about/showing your little one anything else to get their mind off what they were going off on one about.
- Be consistent and stay strong. I’ve definitely struggled with this one! Saying no one moment and yes the next, giving in to demands for ease, – it makes kids far less likely to listen in the future and also confused on their boundaries. Lucas used to go on and on at me and there have been times when I’ve eventually given in and said YES because truthfully, I can’t be dealing with the agg. This results in the boy thinking he OWNS me and it’s OK to cry until he get’s his way. Bad times for all indeed.
- Don’t care what others think. Those situations we all dread, when your shopping in town and your unreasonable toddler is having a ‘public paddy’. That elderly couple tutting and staring have probably forgotten what it’s like to have young children and the snooty girls are just me and you pre-children – judgemental and haven’t got a clue. My best friend and I often joke we are now THOSE mums we used to look at. IGNORE and try your best not to get stressed out. Even around your friends that may do things differently to you, try not to worry about that they think. What works for them may not work for you. If they are a real friend they will not judge.
- Make everything an adventure. As above, likely times for a toddler tantrum are day to day situations like shopping and running errands. Let your child bring a favourite toy or wear their trusty bright wellies, make out you’re seeing something exciting (I big up the fish tank in The Range for example) giving ‘jobs’ to do such as putting things in the trolley or naming what they can see around them. Try to make bath times and teeth brushing a positive experience even if they hate doing it. It may all require more time and effort but reach for that inner patience!
- Time out. I think most mums and dads already incorporate this but time out/naughty step can work wonders. Taking your child out of the situation to calm down and think about what they are doing. We have used the ‘naughty step’ and also quiet time in Lucas’s bedroom, this probably gives us both a chance to chill out.
- Affirmation. We all like to be told we are doing a great job. Recent parenting advice states we should stop giving out endless praise to our little ones, as it may not teach them to try harder or work to a full potential. I disagree and like to constantly tell my two how good they have been, and praise them for even the littlest things. They say the best workers are those shown appreciation, gratitude and rewarded by their boss. We don’t work as hard when always being knit-picked at and every fault pointed out. Why shouldn’t it work the same way with our offspring?
- Cherish the early years. It’s bloody hard work looking after young kids but when I am feeling stressed I try to remind myself they will only be this little for a short while. Children change daily and ‘phases’ do exist. I’m sure I will miss the occasional paddys and whinging when they are horrible teenagers.
- Have a rant. And if all else fails, reach for that bottle of wine and rant to your best mate. Sometimes having a moan about how stressful children can be with someone in the same boat makes all the difference. Don’t feel bad, get it all out! We can’t be perfect all the time.
I totally understand that every child is different and we all parent in the way that works for us. These are just my personal tips and some may do the opposite or think I’m a bit soft, but they have helped me and just may be slightly useful to someone else at their wits end. Please let me know any of your secrets and toddler survival skills, we need all the help we can get raising those little terrors!