Days when she doesn't want to do what I ask her. Moments when she thinks NO is always the best answer. Moments when she thinks that not looking at me means I cannot see what she is doing. Moments when I ask her to look at me, and she purposely turns and faces the opposite way. Moments when I say "1,2,3, sit down" and she responds "1,2,3, stand up." Moments where she thinks crying on the floor will get her what she wants. Moments when no matter what I say or do, Mommy is the bad guy.
I hate to say that we have entered into the "terrible two" age. I truly DO NOT like this label...I've got too much educational training to not fully believe in the "self-fulling prophecy" and the idea that a child becomes what you expect of them. So while I use the "it's just a phase" to comfort myself after a tough day, I always strive to address the situation at hand with an understanding heart and some level of reasoning (but I will not let the "terrible two" concept justify her behavior).
Prior to starting back to work this summer, my little lady was having a TOUGH day. Everything was going bad according to her. Nothing was right. She didn't want to eat. Then she did. While I fixed breakfast or lunch I wasn't "paying enough attention to her", then I was "touching her too much" (...I was giving her hugs...)...we weren't outside... we weren't reading the right book... we weren't swimming...we weren't swinging....it was endless. I was about to lose it.... then we went to check the mail and you would never believe what book was waiting for us in the mailbox! (We get 1 book a month mailed to our house via the Dolly Parton Imagination Library)
|My No, No, No Day! By Rebecca Patterson|
I hadn't actually checked the mail in a couple of days, so I'm sure this book was delivered earlier in the week, but for me, I felt like God was giving me a much needed gift. As soon as we got back to the house we went in and read this book. It was like reading about a parallel universe....this was the written form of how our day was going. This is a wonderful book!---exceptional for those testy toddler days when your child needs to SEE what it looks like to act "badly" (and how other people see the behavior) and for you as a parent to try and reach a level of understanding rather than anger. Lets just say, I ended the book in tears.... tears of guilt for being so frustrated with my little one when I know that we ALL have bad days sometimes. When we ALL feel like things are just not going right and we have a domino effect that leads from grumpy to grumpier. I felt guilty for showing too many signs of irritation and maybe giving her too many time out sessions rather than trying to comfort her during her trying moments.... guilty for not trying to truly understand why she was feeling this way.
[I even had a moment of giggles. In the book when the little girl says "nobody!" my little one contradicted her with "YESbody!" AHHH!!!....a whole new level when you argue with a book itself]
I am certainly not saying that my girl doesn't still get "in trouble" often. We still discipline her often...it's part of how she learns what is acceptable and what is not. What is right and wrong. What is allowed in our home, and what is not. BUT--I have also strived to take a step back after she throws herself on the floor in a fit of tears, or after she shouts "NO" about whatever and try to remember that she is only TWO. She is still figuring out how to calmly and verbally describe her emotional state...and, just like with us, there are times that she doesn't even know why she's grumpy. She just is!
Being a toddler is hard. They are still learning how to communicate their thoughts and emotions. They are developing their independence that at times, is strongly encouraged by parents, and other times strongly deterred. For toddlers, it is hard to understand why we allow them to do one thing and not another. AND there are times when a toddler's own capabilities are not at the level they want-- they just cannot understand why they aren't tall enough, or why their little fingers just can't get that puzzle piece in the right spot. It gets frustrating!
So on those days when you are on your last straw....when you are at your absolute limit...when if your spouse doesn't get home in the next ten minutes you are going to CRY.... remember that your little human or humans are just that...human. They are not trying to make your day a living h***. They are trying to sift through a whole array of emotions. They are testing their boundaries. They are extra hungry, or sleepy, or just having a bad day for no apparent reason. Try to be understanding. Try to offer them the chance to explain why they feel the way they do, or why they are acting the way they are acting. Try to respect their emotional outburst as being the only way they understand how to express the way they feel.... and then YOU EXPLAIN to them how YOU FEEL.
Tell them that you too are tired. Tell them that their screaming is making your head hurt. That if they keep acting this way, they may make you feel so bad that you will cry. YOU TOO have emotions. You too have a lot on your plate to deal with and they need to understand that their behaviors and actions can negatively impact other people and not just themselves. Kids, even little two year olds can understand sooooo much more than we sometimes give them credit. They are excellent at learning cause and effect. Our job as parents is to support them, love them, but also teach them (for my little one, the softer spoken my voice, the more receptive she is to stopping and listening). They need to learn that crying doesn't equal getting a cookie. That asking nicely and saying please will get them a cookie. As they get older, they learn that just because you ask nicely and say please STILL doesn't mean you will get that cookie!! A hard lesson to learn indeed.
So after the tantrum, and the tears (from mommy and child), the discipline, the conversations, the hugs, the kisses....everything that goes into these tough days, remind them of this:
We will all have bad days sometimes. Our goal is to make every day the best day we can.