Today my daughter truly tested my patience. I am very calm around my toddler, even while she is throwing a tantrum, pulling my hair, aggravating the dog, screaming at such high levels your ears start to ring, wants up then back down and then screams to get back up. Usually its only a few or just one of these things going on. Not today, today she was on full blast.
Let me also add that my sweet daughter is also a talented climber. She enjoys climbing on the chair and onto the table. Nothing is off limits, everything is hitting the floor if I don’t grab her in time. She wants to be up high so she can not only demolish what is in her path, but also so she can see more of what’s going on. So when it is time for me to start dinner she wants up. She wants to be held, which makes prepping and cooking impossible.
I found this video scrolling through Facebook of a stool with a fenced in top part. It looked like the perfect solution to our problem. My dad has taken on wood working so I sent it to him and asked if he could make it happen. Well, our new contraption was delivered yesterday. We named it Dakota’s Tower. Now she can stand on it while I cook and “help” me instead of hinder me.
So back to this morning. I am looking at my kitchen after I have put her down for her afternoon nap and want to cry. How in the world did this tiny 2o pound being cause this much chaos? Sure she climbed in her tower, in and out, but then she wanted to come out of the wrong end and got stuck. She has slid chairs all over the kitchen as well using them to climb where she can’t reach. I still have a mess from making egg salad, that literally took me at least 2 hours to make. When I finally get to eat my breakfast, oh wait, its noon so now its lunch, she is screaming “I want it, I want it!” So of course I share my hard earned meal with her.
One phrase comes to mind, “the terrible twos.” Are we already there? Wait, what are the terrible twos? Is it just a catchy phrase someone made up to categorize rowdy children who just so happen to be in or approaching their second year of life? While she still has another 4 months until she is two, can she already be hitting this “stage?”
Honestly, I really don’t even like that phrase at all. I believe that my daughter, as well as a mass of other toddlers, start to explore the world with more understanding. They begin to have an opinion of what they want, but are still learning how to communicate it effectively. This way of thinking is what keeps me calm in moments of chaos like this morning, and every evening now. I want to model that screaming and throwing tantrums are not the answer to getting her way. If I raise my voice or become “scary,” then that is what she will reciprocate. I want to teach her that we calm down and talk it out. We figure out the problem and then go from there.
Here is one example that made me feel like my efforts are working. Last week we went to our weekly gymnastics class. She threw the worst temper if I took away her snack pack of cheerios. I could not get her to calm down. I am talking full on throwing herself on the floor tantrum. What did I do? I did not yell at her, I did not threaten or spank her. I took her into the lobby where we were alone, calmly explained that we are leaving the cereal here for after class. I got her to answer me and she calmed down enough for us to go back to class. I was such a proud mommy, not only did it work but it was in public!
What I am trying to stress is that, as hard as it is sometimes, I try to take what could easily be seen as near impossible challenges and turn them into lessons learned through experience. My daughter is learning how to deal with every day emotions and she needs my guidance on how to effectively do this. Sometimes it’s good to walk away and let her get it all out, while other times she needs me to talk her through it.