One thing I have learned in my 18 years of living with toddlers is that’s they are highly underrated. I’ve never been plagued with the terrible toddler 2’s or 3’s. They are amused easily, they are highly inquisitive and they thoroughly enjoy life.
Toddlers are little people with big emotions. They are learning how to manage those emotions. They feel overwhelmed easily and aren’t experienced in expressing it. Many adults aren’t very skilled in communicating anger and frustration either. Helping them identify what they feel by being empathetic helps your child communicate their feelings the next time.
From when they are about 4-6 months old, when they would cry, I will ask “ what happened?” Because they are able to understand events before they under stand emotions -I ask “what happened” instead of “what’s wrong”. They cannot reply but when they are old enough to, the lines of communication are already established. So when they come to you at one year old crying and mumbling and you ask what happened they will point to the offending person or object. As they get older it’s easier to diffuse situations by engaging in conversation. When I ask “What happened?” my toddlers will begin telling me a story which most often ends the crying. Then I attach a feeling “did that hurt your foot?” Or “did that make you angry”
It’s ok to be angry, frustrated, sad… it’s our job to teach them how to handle those emotions. It’s not fair for a child to be told they aren’t allowed to be upset. They have every right to or be angry over trivial things. Because to them it’s probably important. They do not have a right to encroach on someone because they are angry. That’s where parenting comes in. Our reactions are how they will model their behavior. If your child is acting irrationally, step back and think about how your reactions are influencing them.
Yesterday Mosiah (3) was upset that the other children weren’t playing in a way he thought was fair. He stormed away and sat in the corner. Obviously upset. We have been helping him to learn to step back when you get angry. So he did. A few moments after I took this photo he got up and resumed playing. He didn’t need or want to have a discussion about it, he was managing his emotions on his own.
Of course there are times when they throw a fit and you have to stand firm. Especially if they are acting aggressive. Last week or so Gabriel pulled Mosiahs hair so Mosiah bit him. Dad separated them and took Mosiah aside. He talked to him about biting and how it’s not appropriate and when someone is hurting you and you can get away you do so. He talked to Gabriel about pulling hair. If the situation happened again we would have addressed the core problem, not the symptoms. Toddlers who act out repeatedly in one day they either need a nap, food or activity.
This weekend Gabriel started to act out a bit. We differentiate between snacks and treats. And this week we have had a lot of treats. So when Gabriel asked me for a treat earlier and I said no, he threw a fit. Not something he does very often but it was the third time in 2 days. I offered him a snack and he said no. So at that point I told him I wasn’t going to argue, if he wanted a snack he can get one. 30 seconds later he was done crying and he went and had a granola bar. I don’t talk to people when they are screaming at me. Not even adorable toddlers.
I enjoy these years. Toddlers are really a lot of fun. Learning to speak their language will make it so much better.