A natural challenge for any parent is dealing with toddler tantrums. The sweet happy baby disappears into a demanding and irrational toddler. Sure they are the cutest in this phase, but they’re also very demanding.
So, when I set out to read some self-help books on how to tackle my aggression in reaction to tantrums thrown in by my 2-year-old son, I found very little information on the worldwide net. What I found instead were numerous articles and write-ups elaborating on how to manage aggressive toddler behavior.
I sighed at the futility of trying to manage his rash behavior when I cannot check my own knee-jerk reactions to his one naughty act here or a tantrum there.
One primary reason for my impatience while dealing with my son is that being a working mother, I always have a long To-Do list which impacts my willingness to be more patient. And over time, I have got into a habitual pattern where even if I don’t have anything urgent to do, my mind is always thinking about pending tasks and thus I am prone to knee-jerk reactions to his naughtiness.
With this internalization, I continued my quest to look for material to help me towards a non-aggressive being. Well, I did come across some meaningful stuff.
Having read a lot of it, I did some introspection myself and the first step was to focus on what is it that ticks me off?The little list went as follows –
- When my toddler throws a tantrum. Eg. He wants to wear party clothes at bedtime.
- He refuses to understand adult logic. Eg. He will insist on having water directly from the tap. The concept of drinking filtered water does not go down well with him.
- He involves himself in behavior which I feel are ethically and socially unacceptable. Eg. hitting someone, or, peeing in his pants.
- He refuses to calm down and sleep even after I have had a long day and am desperate to retire for a comfortable nights sleep.
In hindsight, all of the above is natural behaviour for a toddler. And what I forgot to remember while reacting is that he still doesn’t understand the meaning of “should and should not”. He is only exploring his capacity to “Can’s” and “Cannot’s”. My aggressive behaviour is leading him to observe a repetitive behavior pattern and making him register the same in his mind as a “Can do” behavior.
So, what do I do about it? And How?
Taking cue from the numerous articles I read,I decided to follow a couple of things –
Do Not Shout
I think the entire instance of shouting and reacting to what Nick has done, makes me feel worse once the moment has passed because I am immediately repenting me yelling at him. So the rule is, “Do Not Shout”. Instead, go about doing whatever needs to be done with my mouth shut.
I just move away from my child on the onset of a tantrum, this normally gives him and me a little break, and the tantrums aren’t as bad. Sometimes, change in control makes things easy, I can do this conveniently, as I can hand him over to my mother-in-law. The worst tantrums are usually with the parents.
I have recently taken to a short and quick mental activity before reacting to any of my child’s tantrums. This how it goes –
What is a mistake?
It is a behaviour that I consider wrong.
What is the implication of this wrong behavior in my evaluation?
I fear that people will judge my child for this behavior of his.
Spare yourself this worry. People will forget about it as quickly.
But I am also afraid that he may become ill-mannered.
If you nag the kid about bad behaviour then and there, it is like negative reinforcement. He may actually get more attracted towards it.
Then what do I do?
Let it pass. Later try and induce positive behavior through dialogue and setting examples for him to look forward to.
Ummm! That kinda makes sense. Most of what ticks me off is actually temporary stuff. So my new Mantra, “Be Calm. It Shall Pass.” 🙂
After all this introspection and internalization, when I look at my child I remember what one of my fellow blogger once mentioned in her blog. Kids these days want to become independent too soon. So just enjoy this time when they really are dependent on you for every little thing.
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