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Welcome to the age of TANTRUMS!
I feel like we don’t talk about the struggles of parenthood enough. As parents I think we feel this pressure to appear perfect all the time and raise these perfect little humans, but that’s not reality. We are not perfect and that’s okay! I love sharing my imperfections and struggles with you all because hopefully it can help any other parents that might be in my same situation or a similar one understand they are not alone. I think by sharing our parenthood struggles with each other it helps alleviate that stress of needing to be perfect and we can come together to find solutions and strategies to help one another! Recently Mia started transitioning into a phase of what most people refer to as “The Terrible Twos” and I started facing some challenges on how to handle it. Once I started researching and asking my fellow mommy friends for advice I actually noticed a positive change in Mia, so I will be sharing some of that advice down below.
Now let me just say, being a parent is hands down the hardest job ever! You are responsible for the life of this little human being, constantly worrying if they’re getting the best nutrients, are they learning enough, am I showing them enough love, do they know how to be kind….all while you have to still find time to take care of yourself, go to work (and you stay at home mamas work just as much as anyone who works an outside job), and still maintain a loving relationship with your partner and all the other life tasks that are thrown in there! On top of all these struggles that we face as parents, we also have to worry about the unwanted criticism that comes from fellow parents and complete strangers. I mean, holy cow! Yet, we still love it! Why? Well, even though it may be the hardest job, it’s also the most rewarding job. Seeing the love that our children have for us is like nothing else in the world. It’s a feeling that fills your heart with so much joy, it makes you want to cry (okay maybe it just makes me want to cry, I cry at everything).
Before I get into this terrible two phase we’re in, I briefly want to share a little bit of what these first 20 months of parenting have been like for us. Mia is my husband and I’s first child, so this past year and a half has been a day to day learning process for us. The first three months were pretty tough because Mia was colicky and for any other parent whose baby was colicky, you understand how frustrating it can be. It’s endless (and I mean endless) crying for no reason with no solution to stop it. Then all of the sudden one day, when she was about 3 months old, she stopped and life was so much easier! I have always been super strict with routines and schedules when it comes to Mia and let me just tell you, being strict with routines works like a charm when it comes to your baby’s sleep! Mia has been an incredible sleeper and napper because of everything we did, so if any one is interested on more details about how we got into a great sleep schedule I can put that together in another post, just let me know! Everyday I have such mixed emotions about watching Mia grow up right before my eyes. I cry because it’s incredible watching the new things she learns and discovers everyday and I also cry because I realize she’s growing up and then I start to miss each phase she is growing out of (I told you I cry at everything). I honestly could go on forever about these past 20 months of parenting, so maybe I’ll save the rest for another post and focus on what you came here to read about…THE TERRIBLE TWOS!
So, this new found attitude and sass that Mia has developed came out of nowhere recently. She’s only 20 months old so I wasn’t expecting this kind of behavior yet or even at all (I’ll be honest, I thought for sure that my kid would never be a brat because I thought for sure I could control everything). I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, I’ve truly known that’s what I was meant to be, but once our daughter was born all of that confidence sort of went out the window. I was faced with all of these new challenges that I wasn’t prepared for and I didn’t know how to handle it. Over time being a mom started to feel easier, I was getting the hang of it and my husband was a great support system helping me learn as we go! But after each new challenge we conquer, another one comes along, which leads me to our newest challenge. Mia’s behavior lately consist of not wanting to eat any of her food and throwing it, random outburst of screaming for no reason, randomly freaking out and throwing anything in sight, and slapping and pinching. These things aren’t happening all of the time, but are definitely a big part of each day. Sometimes I’m nervous to take her places because I don’t want her to be mean to another kid or to cause a scene when we’re out in public. I think that nervous feeling wasn’t so much because I cared what people thought but more because I wasn’t exactly sure how to correctly discipline her when she acts out. It’s so hard to know if you’re doing the right thing as a parent. I want her to know what she is doing is wrong and to understand what is right, but how exactly do you go about teaching that to a child? I started doing a lot of research and recently asked my fellow mommy friends for some advice and I got some great suggestions! We started trying out some of these suggestions and in just a matter of 5 days, I’m starting to notice a difference in the way Mia responds or acts! I want to share some of my favorite bits of the advice I received and how those suggestions have worked for us, so maybe it can help you too! Please note, I am in no way a professional in this matter, this is not professional advice, just help from one mama to another!
Ignoring the outburst –
This was a hard one for me. This is the age when they start to test their boundaries with you and man does it test your patience as a parent! Trying to ignore her when she’s sitting on the ground and screaming as loud as she can is a hard thing to ignore, ESPECIALLY when you’re in public, but I do agree that it is important to not give in to this behavior. They do it because they want a reaction, so if you don’t give them one, they will slowly start to learn that this behavior serves no purpose. I tried this out the past couple of days. It didn’t seem to be working for the first day, but I stayed strong and continued on to the second day. On that second day when she started to scream, after a minute she realized that I wasn’t looking at her, so she stopped, sat down to play with her toys and was QUIET!! There have still been a few outburst since then but there’s definitely an improvement!
Don’t give in, stick to what you say –
It’s hard when you tell your child “no” and they continue to behave the same, all you want to do is say “screw it” and give them whatever you can to make them stop. While that may stop the behavior in that current moment, it is not good for the long run. You begin to lose your control when you give in and your child will realize they can get whatever they want by acting out. Stay strong and stay firm! We are still working on this one, but we haven’t caved yet. If we tell Mia “no, you can not have that toy” then under no circumstances does she get that toy! Sure, she cries for a little bit, but, slowly but surely the crying will be less and less and she will start respecting what we say.
No good cop/bad cop –
This one is really important. I think every child has that one parent who they feel is a little bit more forgiving than the other, but keeping a strong unity between you and your partner when it comes to discipline is so important. If you both are not on the same page you lose control and your child will no longer respect what you say. Have a lot of conversations with your partner about your disciplining methods so you are one team and remember, “what mom says, dad means”.
Talk about feelings –
I really liked this idea. I think it’s important to not just tell our kids they can’t do something, but to explain why they can’t. If they hurt someone, you want them to know why it hurt that person, not just the fact that they hurt them. Mia isn’t even 2 years old yet, but I still want to talk to her about feelings, it’s never too early. The more she hears about what feelings and emotions are and what they mean, the sooner she will understand how to control her own feelings and emotions. Remember, toddlers are growing in to all these new feelings that they don’t understand, so be patient and instead of punishing them, teach them!
Alternatives to “NO” –
I REALLY wish we would have started this one sooner, because we already have a child who likes to say “no” to everything, even when she means yes. One of my friends recommended replacing the word “no” with something simple like “ugh huh”. I think it might take a little longer to start becoming effective for us since we’ve already continuously said “no” to her, but there have already been a couple of times when I said “ugh huh” and she didn’t shout it back at me like she would with “no”. This idea can be applied to phrases as well. Instead of using negative phrases to discipline your child, try positive solutions as an alternative, for example; instead of saying “Stop crying”, you could say “Please use your words to tell me what is wrong” or instead of saying “Don’t say that.”, you could say “Please use another word to say that.”
Positive Discipline A-Z –
This is a book that another one of my friends recommended. I just ordered it, but we haven’t had a chance to read it yet. She said it worked wonders for her two year old and the reviews were pretty amazing as well. I will follow up with this one and how it works for us, once we receive the book!
Unconditional Love –
This one feels like the most important to me. Please remember our children are constantly trying to learn and understand the world around them, so when they act out, it’s not always because they just want to be jerks it’s because they are trying to get an emotion or point across and they get frustrated because they don’t know how. I have to remind myself of this a lot when I get aggravated with Mia. There have been many studies proving that giving nurturing and unconditional love to our children can have significant positive effects on their brain development, mental health, physical health, behavior towards others, and their confidence, so make sure that no matter how your child is behaving that you don’t stop showing them how much you still love them. I can’t stress how important love is to me, and well, everyone! We are living in a world that feels like it is filled with so much more hate than ever before and love is something we definitely need to be spreading more of! Start spreading that love right in your own home to your children because our children are the future and if we want to see a future filled with love than let’s show them what love means!
There is so much more about parenting and disciplining that I could talk about, but I don’t want to keep rambling and have you going cross eyed from starring at the computer for too long haha, so if you have any questions for me about anything I talked about or want to know a little more about my life, please don’t hesitate to comment below and ask! Now to all my fellow parents, let’s all open those bottles of wine and kick back, because we deserve it damn it!