We used to say of our little Jess
There was a little girl, who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good, she was very very good
But when she was bad she was horrid!
Our delightful Jess was our hardest toddler; from colic to tempers – she was full on or she was delightful!
It doesn’t matter how well training is going, it doesn’t matter how delightful their little personalities are there will be those days. Those days are when they object to everything that doesn’t go their way, they are tired, cranky, and vocal about it. Those days are when they are sick or teething. Those days are also about mum being tired and running low on patience and not knowing what to do next.
The best thing to do on those days is to love toddler and be kind to yourself.
So often it is our to-do list that pushes us to be impatient with their issues. So on days that are going to be demanding go easy on your expectations; go easy on what you expect from toddler and from yourself. Reduce your to-do to the very minimum and make yourself available to your toddler.
Loving your child is the most important thing so ask yourself – how can you show love today? This doesn’t mean we let them do whatever they want – but we do need to recognise that today they are going to have a harder day doing what they normally can do; today self-control is going to be hard for them, being kind is going to be hard, being obedient is going to be hard– so we need to help them in every way we can.
We help a child be obedient by not asking above what they can do. We don’t put them in situations beyond their ability to cope and remember, today their ability to cope is really really low! Usually, when we are training them, and helping them grow, we will be stretching them, just a little bit – this is how they learn new skills and responses. But not today! Today is like a ‘rest’ day – though we will still need to expect the base minimum, for example:
- no hitting (so often my kids would not hit normally, but on ‘those’ day’s, they would)
- obedience is more like coming when held by the hand not of choice,
- eating at meals is still expected, but we won’t try new foods or insist on foods we know they already struggle with
- Naps, and cot time will still be expected, though they may be shorter. In our family we often had 2 playpen times on these days though each one was a little shorter than usual.
The other thing that can be done on those days is to do something fun. I used to visit my friend and she would love on my kids (read spoil them), and it was an act of love towards me, that she made them smile again! A short visit to a friend, the library, pool, or park may well just help your toddler switch back to their nice-self. Don’t overstay or be over-hopeful. At the very least it will do is give you, a change of scenery. So if your toddler doesn’t respond positively don’t make another burden for your back by insisting on staying, make it a short time away and head back home.
At home we can change the scenery too by pulling out different toys, maybe a new or special DVD you hold for such times, maybe sit and read books, or play with the hose together out on the lawn.
There are going to be days where nothing normal happens. We can get uptight about that and pull against it, be frustrated, annoyed, angry, impatient or we can go with the flow and recognise that this is a part of a toddler growing up, these days are going to happen. Our heart needs to be today my toddler needs something different than usual today and I need to find a way to give it.
You can see the rest of my Living with a Toddler for 31 days series here.
Or find more 31 day series here.