Each age brings with it new and wonderful things. At six months I thought that was the best age EVER.
One brought all the cuddles and giggles and personality. One was surely the best age EVER.
Two was great. I love two. More talking, more comprehension, more joy. More personality, sure, more ‘push-back’ if you will but it was still an enjoyable journey.
Terrible twos, they said… and I thought, this ain’t that bad.
Hellooooooo, three. Aren’t you just a wilful, spirited age?
That’s what the books call it, but I think that’s because little shit is deemed offensive by many, if slightly more accurate.
I would like to loudly and boldly state that three is officially NOT the best age ever. There are many awesome bits, but I do find myself checking to see if there is suddenly a great big curl right in the middle of his forehead, for when he is good, he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad, he’s…….
I feel like my sweet, loving, obedient and caring little friend has been abducted by aliens and replaced with a tantruming boy-bot.
We lock horns terribly (pointless). I try reasoning with the crazed, screaming child (ridiculous) and I feel my rage gauge climbing and it appears that the roof of my head may simply spin off, and leave a terrible splatter on the roof (messy).
I have a few mums around me with beautifully behaved, slightly older children and what I’m observing with these parents is they do not take one single ounce of crap, and the argument is over before it even begins.
‘The answer is no’
Wow. That’s not what happens in my experience.
Apparently, the key is this bit. This now bit. This three bit.
This turd bit.
If you get this right then it’s smoother sailing for the rest of your lives, but if you don’t nail it, you’ll have a big kid throwing these unsightly, mortifying tantrums and totally owning your arse in the process.
Oh, sweet Jesus, save me from that fate.
This is my game plan. Allow me to share, in case you know a wilful and spirited toddler.
Stick to your guns
Don’t say no, and then cave in after incessant whining. If you cave even once, your kid will think you will do that every time if they keep it up long enough… and you’ll be amazed how long they can keep it up for.
Watch your words
Try not to say things like ‘you are a naughty child’, but more things like ‘your behaviour is unacceptable’ or ‘I don’t like it when you’re not listening to me’. Don’t ever say things like ‘you are stupid.’
It’s important to reprimand the behaviour, and not the child.
Not just you, them too. If your child is one to throw things or lash out in anger, get them to take a few breaths. In theory, you’re aiming to get them to take breaths before the anger in the future.
Sometimes, D Man will fight against it, but if I breath deeply with him, it helps us both chillax.
Respect their anger
Anger is a valid emotion, just like happiness so we don’t want to try to get them to not feel their anger, just to control it.
When they’re losing their shizzle, let them know that you understand they’re really cranky right now, but you’ll listen to them when they calm down enough to talk to you.
Then walk away. Don’t watch the fireworks.
Change of scene
Sometimes it feels like your squalling kid is stuck in a screaming vortex long after the issue. I often wonder if he even remembers what he’s screaming and carrying on about.
Rather than flip your lid, try going for a walk. It’s not rewarding the behaviour, it’s just everyone getting some air because in times of stress the house becomes incredibly small and tense. Just mix it up, and everyone feels a bit better….and you can walk past the shop (bottlo) and buy a sneaky chocolate (wine) while you pretend you’re buying milk.
I never understood the power of the naughty corner. I couldn’t see why a child would stay there….but they do.
I’m finding great success with the naughty corner. Stay there until you’re calm doesn’t work for me though, as he gets super upset by the thought of being punished. It just gives me an option to put him somewhere that expresses that he’s misbehaved and we get space from each other. He does get worked up by it so I don’t leave him there long, just a minute or two and they I ask if he’s ready come out and do what is asked of him.
A common trap to fall into is asking your little one if they’d like to do something, thereby creating the space for a resounding NO.
Perhaps, instead of asking if they’d like to clean their teeth, come to dinner, or put their toys away, you gently suggest it, and lead the way.
‘Let’s go clean your teeth’ and take their hand….. or in some cases chase them around the lounge until you catch them and then gently take their hand (drag them) to the bathroom.
I love this one. If you don’t want them to do something, offer two options of things that they can do. This essentially gives them some power (which is what most of the issue is about), but not too much. You can guide them into a direction you want, and they feel like they’re in control. Everyone is happy.
Remember you’re a good mum (or dad, or non-specific carer)
It’s ok to get angry. If you smack because you lost your cool, don’t beat yourself up, just try to use better tactics next time. You’re human. This is a tough gig. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to breath instead of react, and act in a rational thoughtful way.
Or whatever floats your boat. Not before 5, not all night. Just a little bit. It really bloody helps the dinner/bath/bed vortex.
Above all always bear in mind that this too shall pass.
I am not a smarmy preachy parenting expert, and I have written this in a list as much for me as you.
If you have any crackers to add to help me through…..please don’t be shy!
Do you know anyone with a toddler?
Share this with them PRONTO. It may mean the difference between survival and not!!!!
Hooking up with the gorgeous and gracious With Some Grace for Flog Your Blog Friday.