Toddlers. They’ve been compared to lots of things: drunken friends, old people, pets and plenty more. They have little to know control of their impulses, are generally clumsy, have a great deal of problem concentrating and don’t always hear/listen to you when you give them simple requests. It can make life frustrating. I thought I’d share some of the things I do to try and keep my cool with The Lad through the days I’m in charge of him. At least I can share some stories with the rest of you that might show you that we all have our moments.
I have yelled at my son. My reasons are many and varied: he’s about to touch the hot oven, he’s about to eat something he really shouldn’t be putting in his mouth, his rough and tumble play has hit me in me bits or he’s bout to throw a shoe in the general direction of his sister (he actually did this the other day). Sometimes it’s just out of exasperation. Having finally cleaned down the high chair, or having finally settled/changed the baby I find The Lad trying to build sand castles out of cat litter in the bathroom. So, I yell. I don’t do it often, I don’t do it too loudly and I never mean to, but I do. Feels good to get that off my chest.
I am many many miles from perfect. I often ignore my own advice. It’s also worth noting that whatever The Lad’s gotten his hands on or gotten himself into it takes a special kind of adult to leave it out for him to pick up and/or throw around. That special adult is usually me…. I wish I was more organised and less absent-minded sometimes, but I am not. My sleep is usually interrupted, this might have something to do with it….
So, when it all goes down how does The Dadinator cope? Sometimes he doesn’t, but he tries his best. Sometimes he starts to talk about himself in the third person. And then he stops. Here are some of what I do and why I do it:
1.) The problem is the behaviour not the child
This comes from some of the stuff I learned while doing teaching. Saying “You’re bad” or “You’re naughty” is useless, instead focus on the behaviour not the child, and tell them what you want them to do. In a situation with a toddler they won’t necessarily understand you, but that’s not their fault. The behaviour is probably not their fault, they don’t know their head from their bums most of the time.
Sure I get sick of saying “Food is for eating, not throwing”. I get sick of saying “We don’t throw shoes”. I get sick of saying “Give me that now thank you!”. But I do it. I try to be persistent and persevere, and we get there. Well I think we do.
2.) Keep your cool
I confessed that I have yelled at The Lad over the years. It never feels good, and it never achieves anything much. In fact, when you yell at a kid, you just stress them out. Interesting when you go into a ‘stress response’ in your brain, the hippocampus (short term memory centre) shuts down. That stops the kid remembering much of what happens, and it certainly stops them from learning anything out of the situation. It’s best avoided. Although we all slip up. Kid’s also learn from the example you set more than from the words you say, so keep that in mind.
3.) Don’t talk at a child that isn’t even looking at you.
I’ve caught myself doing this. I realised that if I say “Put that down” and The Lad isn’t even looking at me. Funnily enough he doesn’t do what I ask. Take a second to get the kids attention before you tell them to do something. It saves you time and effort, plus it also ensures your message actually gets through.
4.) Get the child to help fix the situation
The Mamanator is much better at this than me… If a child throws something on the ground, get them to pick it up. If they spill water, get them to help mop it up. I sometimes just want to shortcut this process and do it myself. Even at my level of domestic ineptitude I can clean up a spilled puddle of water, or gather up sultanas faster than The Lad can at the tender age of 2. I am working on it though, and The Lad frequently impresses me with his ability to help. Sure things take a little longer, but It’s worth the wait.
5.) Don’t hold a grudge
Kids will make mistakes, test boundaries and form annoying habits. It’s their nature. It isn’t personal, don’t take it as such. Do your utmost to move on. I guarantee the little one will do so very very fast.
6.) Catch your breath
We’re trying to encourage The Lad to breath deeply when he’s worked up. We do this by holding him close and taking deep breaths, he picks up the rhythm and joins in. Sometimes I need to take some deep breaths myself before going in to talk to him about how his food doesn’t go on the floor. It is one of the most basic ways of lowering your heart rate and calming yourself down. So take the chance to do so, it does make a difference.
So, I hope there’s some help in there, as I mentioned I don’t always follow my own advice, but I do my best. I’m sure you all do to.