Let’s be honest. Toddlers are precious as pie and the cutest things on the planet, but they will challenge you and test your patience.
There’s no such thing as a perfect mom, perfect child, or a perfect parenting strategy. Every child and situation is different.
It’s important to remember that as moms we’re all in this together. We’re all doing our best and going to bed worrying about our kids. We’ve all been up at 1 am googling on our phones about what is the current thing going on with our kids. Motherhood is real life, and like real life, it’s not always perfect.
Toddler Tantrums: You’re Not Alone
Toddler tantrums and all the fun and crazy moments with toddlers are real. Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve experienced some of the more challenging things I’ve ever faced with my toddler. He locked me out of the house while I was bringing in the groceries! I had to run around to the sliding glass door and hope he would open the door. He drew with marker all over my friend’s house on her walls and couch, drew all over my bar stool with a permanent marker, and drew with marker on Grandma’s chair, too. We think he is a mini Picasso. If we are coming to your house, hide all the markers!! He playfully scratched his older brother and left him with a nice scar on his cheek for school pictures. This is real life with a toddler. Oh, the fun stories we all have to tell. We really are in this together.
Time Outs. How Long and When to Start?
With all that said, toddlers need direction too. It’s good to start young, and a good way to start is simple time outs. I like the tip one minute time out per their age: one-year-old one minute, two-year-old two minutes, and three-year-old three minutes in a time-out chair. Time outs are only really for deliberate acts, not just being their age. Hitting, kicking, biting, or hurting anyone–and yes that includes mom–means time out. It gives the opportunity to have a break from the current behavior. It’s important and best to stay calm when you say, “You’re in time out.” It’s a little reset button. Let’s face it: you can’t start at four years old. Your child would look at you and say “What did you say Mom? What is time out?” For that reason, I recommend starting early, at around 18 months.
I also really love looking for the positive. Positive parenting is great. Look for the little moments they throw their wrapper away in the garbage or put the blocks back in the bag. Tell them they did a good job, and they’ll light up like Christmas tree. It’s so cute and they learn they like being good.
Also, use the art of distraction!! It works great for this age. For example, to change their minds from fighting over a toy, you can make them laugh or ask if they want to play with a new toy. Or say, “Want to sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’?” That’s a favorite in our house. It really seems to work and can avoid some hard moments all together.
Getting Through Toddler Tantrums
Lastly, what about those public total meltdown toddler tantrums? We’ve all been there. That’s when you just want to help a fellow mom out with a hug or a high five. It happens. Sometimes when it’s so crazy like that in the middle of a store, I almost remain more calm, because I’m like this is really happening right now in the middle of the store. Just remain calm, know every mom has been there, get out of the store, safely buckle them up, and head home. Breathe mama: it will end!
A Change of Scenery
Sometimes, for my toddler, tantrums can be even crazier in the house. Kinda like the phrase “out and about or in and insane.” So, we hit the road and it provides a little break in the car. I usually head to places like Target and often I’ll keep my toddler in the stroller, as he tends to stand up or get out of the shopping cart. I head to the baby aisle and get a little applesauce to give to him. That gives me some time to look around.
One thing is true: parenting is goes through phases. It’s always changing and some things get way easier, while some things get more interesting and challenging. No doubt though, two-year-olds are busy. Their curiosity for life is adorable and exhausting. You’re not alone in this. We all can share our toddler stories and laugh. Moms, you got this and we really are all in this together. There are tons of parenting advice and books, but the truth is do what keeps you sane as a mom to raise happy kids. I’m cheering for you and all of us!! It a roller coaster of emotions this motherhood journey, but the best ride of your life!!