No, I am not talking about The Wonder Years series on Channel 4 with Fred Savage when we were little... I am talking about the 'Terrible Two's.' I am calling them 'The Wonder Years', as I wonder how you ever survive them?!
So, you never have one the same they said..never a truer word spoken. People who know me know what an angel my daughter is. Apart from the 3/4 months of colic as a baby that were tough, she has been a God-send. Always content, happy to help, thoughtful and rarely moans. Then No 2 arrived, my first boy, such an easy baby. He would sleep in his Moses basket at the drop of a hat, slept through pretty much immediately, and life with two (just under two years apart) seemed blissfully easy. Well, I wish I hadn't jinxed myself with that thought. Besides discovering a dairy intolerance and a long journey with eczema, my easy baby became a handful. At 10 months he began 'The Whinge.' Oh my goodness, I thought I was an Award-winner at moaning, but geeze he was definitely better than me. It was constant from when he woke up until going to bed...he would have short spurts in between where he would smile, laugh and go wild, but purely because he had partaken in some crazy, life-threatening activity and thought it was hilarious. He would be forever hurting himself and falling off everything.
I actually took child No 2 to the Dr to see if there was something wrong with him. I didn't believe a child could whinge this much if perfectly healthy (Yes, I know you are probably wondering what they prescribe for 'whingey child syndrome'). Everything was such hardwork with him, and mealtimes, well, I can't even bring myself to talk about the hideous mealtimes. I likened the experience with my little chappie to child-birth. It was really painful, short episodes where it wasn't painful but I knew it would be worth it in the end. And do you know what, it so has been worth it. As soon as my gorgeous little monkey has turned 4, he is the happiest little guy. Ok, so we still have the fussy eating, and if things aren't quite right there are meltdowns. He has suddenly become so confident, and I think this has been the true turning point for him. I always praised him, and told him how good he was at things. He is just a very sensitive little boy underneath and I think he needed his praise explaining more. He has always been so kind and thoughtful, but it all became over-shadowed by me constantly asking him to; "be-careful of the baby," "don't do this," "don't do that." He is beautiful inside and out, always so considerate and gentle when he needs to be. He is unique, so full of character, hilarious, wild and am so proud to call him my son. I love my little man.
So, if you are going through this tough time of 'The Wonder Years,' fear not, it does become easier. When you feel your toddler is totally consuming you, I have a few pointers:
- Instead of raising your voice and telling them 'no', 'don't do this/ that' and associating their name to the telling off. Just gently pick them up and remove them from the situation. By constantly hearing themselves being told off, they begin to believe they are this disobedient child and start to conform to this undesirable role.
- Sticker Charts are great. They don't necessarily need to collect stickers to receive anything, but just obtaining a sticker for good behaviour emphasises what they are good at. This totally boosts their confidence. I would give him a sticker just if he was gentle with the new baby, or his new cousin, or wiped his bottom himself, or went to the toilet on his own upstairs.
-When you tell them they are being good, also explain what it is that is good, and that it makes you happy. In time they will understand what actions are related to being good.
- Always try and have a small amount of time with each one individually. Even if just doing a jigsaw or reading a book at bedtime. Make sure you say, "This is mummy's/daddy's special time with you." So they realise it is just you and them and they are important.
- At mealtimes, I always ask them, "What made you happy today, and what made you sad?". I think a confident child needs to feel safe/to have a secure belonging to the family unit and this helps them to open up.
And if all of the above fails, just ride the wave, drink lots of wine and chant to yourself, "You will never be this loved, you will never be this loved." I often have to tell myself this time will be gone in the blink of an eye. I know it is so hard to be patient, but we all go through it and we all come out the other side...just a little bit greyer, ruffled and a bit more insane.
What tricks do you have for toddler tantrums?
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