Today was an especially trying day for me. My lovely two year old was being demanding, stubborn, and whiny most of the afternoon. He wasn't following directions, he didn't want to take his nap, and I needed him to take that nap because I needed a break!
In the middle of his meltdown, Mommy started to have a meltdown as well. I was ready to put the kid on the porch and lock the door. I know that sounds terrible, but I think we've all been there a time or two. I had to step back, breath, and remember some of the things that I am always saying to Dad when I see him getting ready to blow.
A quote by one of my favorites, Henry David Thoreau, came to mind...
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
What this means to me is that what I am looking at is a floppy body, tear sprouting toddler gone wild, but what my compassionate eye sees is a floppy body, tear sprouting toddler that is tired and lacking a way of pleasant expression.
Once I get my mind in the right state I am able to help him express his needs, and fulfill them within reason. I am no where near the perfect parent, but here I am offering 5 tips that help keep most interactions positive between the wild child and myself. Take what you like, scrap what you don't, and please share what's helped you survive the toddler years.
1. Be Assertive. Be fair. Be understanding.
If your spouse/b.f.f. can't read your mind, your tot definitely cannot either. If you are expecting action on their part you need to be direct with what you would like for them to do and how you expect for it to be completed. Make sure your expectations are within the limits of their ability and comprehension.
2. Pick your battles.
Don't say no when you can say yes. If you child wants something and it is not going to throw the Earth off of it's axis, then why not say yes? You don't want to become a Yes man, but you don't want to be a No Monster either. If your child is too afraid that you will always say no, chances are high that you will end up with a sneaky little liar.
"Because I said so." is as frustrating to hear from us, as it was for us to hear. Try to avoid sarcasm and bossy remarks when speaking with your kids. Giving them reasons for you actions and reactions will help them to understand the relationship between things, and get their mind connecting the dots.
4. Don't ask if you can't handle an honest answer.
So many times I have V8-style hit myself on the head after giving Alonzo a way out of what I just asked for. All it takes is a simple, "okay?" at the end of your statement. Now that statement is an option which you've given your tot a chance to reject. That or I'll say something like, "Do you want a time out?" and the smarty pants says "YES!" Okay, so now he's on a time out that he put himself on and has completely taken my power away. Well played little man. He gets up two minutes later claiming a victory over mom and guess who ends up cross armed and frustrated after that one.
5. Buy an iPad.
This one came straight from the lips of daddy, and after hearing it I totally agree. Sometimes you need an escape as much as they need an escape, and you should not feel guilty about that. You are not a bad parent if you allow your child a way to relax and entertain themselves. Keep limits and supervision on usage and you are good to go. A tablet can be an interactive learning tool. Download the right apps, load the right restrictions, and let you kid practice ABC's, play matching games, and occasionally watch a Netflix video all while you sit back and take a break for yourself or wash dishes, try to take a shower, or sneak an unhealthy snack.
Bonus 6. Be affectionate and vocalize your love and appreciation.
In good and bad times hold your child close. Help them feel secure and loved. Knowing that you are there for them in good times and bad goes a long way with a kid. As they grow up and begin to have more and more experiences out of the home, they will know that they can share with you things that are happening to them or that they have done. You want to build a strong bond based on trust, love, and understanding. That starts now. Don't shame your child. Love your child. Help them work through difficult emotions. Try to show compassion even when you are ready to lock them out of your house. Don't shout, speak with kindness as much as possible. Try to remember that once upon a time we have been where they are and it's now our turn to treat them the way that we wish we would have been treated and that they need us to treat them.