I read this article recently entitled 'Anyone who says their two year old wasn't an insane tyrant is lying' and loved the brutal honesty, I mean seriously, sometimes being the parent of a toddler is THE WORST. I particularly liked the part about how toddlers are dealing with pretty big emotions that they don't yet have the bandwidth to process appropriately. I feel like this is just the perfect analogy for toddlers.
Zoe is 15 months and while is a little way off being two, she can go from happy and giggly to complete meltdown at the drop of a hat. It can be a tiring emotional rollercoaster throughout the day, and I have slowly started to put together come coping mechanisms which *touch wood* seem to work for me...
1. Empathise - I am a big advocate of Gentle Parenting, while it isn't always the easiest route, it makes the most sense to me as a parent. Each time Zoe starts to meltdown, I try to see the world from her perspective. For example; I want to get her dressed for nursery, and am in a bit of a rush to get us all together and out of the door on time. In Zoe's mind she has just woken up and come downstairs, she hasn't seen her toys in FOREVER and wants to run around and play. So when I try to pin her down and change her nappy, I am spoiling her fun. She has no concept of time or the fact that I need to get to work. Realising this does help me remain calm, she isn't kicking and crawling off to annoy me, she just doesn't get the urgency. Don't get me wrong, I can't just accept this and be late, but I try to explain things as we go, allow her to be in reach of toys, turn it into a game by tickling or blowing raspberries on her tummy. Its not perfect but by stopping to consider how she sees the situation it helps me not turn into a screaming banshee.
2. Distraction - Toddlers have a pretty short attention span; fact. Zoe bounces from activity to activity at an exhausting speed. This attention span is the same for tantrums, on one hand it may be the total end of the world that there is no more yoghurt left in the pot, the quick introduction of some banana can help her soon forget her previous heartbreak. Toddlers don't hold grudges or even remember why they were so upset 30 minutes earlier. Its hard work, but the introduction of a different toy or activity can defuse a tantrum 9 times out of 10 in our house. If we are having a particularly tough day I pull out the tent and tunnel, the perfect distraction is a toy she hasn't seen in a while.
3. Hugs - This might be a controversial one and I know a few people who would see it as me rewarding bratty or naughty behaviour, but hear me out. To refer back to the earlier analogy, toddlers are dealing with huge emotions that they just don't have to bandwidth to process. For example; Zoe doesn't want to put on her shoes, she has no idea why but she feels helpless and out of control and her instinct is to scream, throw her head back and cry her little heart out. A quick cuddle from me helps her feel grounded and secure, and the tears soon pass and she is off in search of her shoes so we can go and have fun at the park. This method tends to work best for us when she is tired.
4. Just let it go - A lot of tantrums and upset tend to occur when I tell Zoe not to do something, for example she likes to empty the pink box in our Kallax unit, which we use to keep nappies and wipes in. I used to try and stop her, tell her no, I don't want you to tip out all of the nappies 34 times a day. On second thought, is it worth a battle? She loves climbing into boxes and hiding, jumping up and saying boo... Does it really matter if shes making a mess? Just let it go, pick your battles.
These are just some of the ways I navigate toddlerhood, other ways include gin and cake.
I'd love to hear your coping mechanisms, even if hey are different to mine I love reading other people experiences, so please do share.