Monday, 21 May 2012

My Toddler's Tantrum Triggers

People always referred to 'the terrible 2's' and I now honestly understand what they meant by that and partially empathise with parents who had gone through the toddler stage.

My daughter is (of course!) actually the most pleasant, amazing, fun loving, wonderful child you will ever meet.  It's all a part of growing up and everyone goes through this but if we as adults know how to deal with it and help little one get to grips with their feelings, the journey will be a great deal happier and smoother for all.

All that said, and as sure as death and taxes, when your toddler hits 2 they will inevitably have a tantrum of sorts. Some may only have one, some...well, just a few more than that.  They will also inevitably learn the word 'no' and repeat this like a broken record.  My daughter has learnt to think about what I've just said to her and then answer with a drawn out but clearly annunciated 'n-ooooooo'.  I do sometimes get a 'yes' or 'okay' which is rather nice!

I slowly (and eventually) identified a few of the things that triggered her frustration and am now trying my best to avoid them.  Either that or I'll need to make sure I re-subscribed to the Sunday Times Wine of the Month Club!!!  

These are the top 3 things that can potentially lead to a situation of tantrum size proportions.

1. Ramblings of a Raving Toddler
My daughter's speech and language development has come along in leaps and bounds over the past few months.  However, it wasn't always as easy to understand her baby language of unknown and extremely creative made up words.  Interrupting her before she had finished or not correctly interpreting her ramblings would often lead to a very distressing situation.

I learnt to listen intently to her while sitting at her level, talking back to her in a reasonable tone after she has finished speaking.  I did my best to try to understand exactly what she was after and soon picked up a pattern or familiar words or sounds that related to specific tasks or items.  My daughter was then, in most cases, happy to gently take my hand instead of screaming at me and yanking me by the finger in the general direction of what she is trying to tell me about or show me.

I can't begin to imagine the frustration of trying to ask for something and just not having the necessary vocabulary to get across what I need or want.  I’m also surprised that she didn't dislocate one of my fingers when she tried to pull me across the room!

It never ceases to amaze me that over the past few weeks and months the ramblings are now being perfected into actual known words that she knows the meaning to and understands which context to use them in.   More to the point, words that I can understand!  Just one example is of 'all dum' has developed into 'all done!'  Long sentences are also being formed.  It is truly amazing and beautiful to watch.

2. Toddler Hunger
I suspect that having a toddler could potentially be compared to having a teenage boy in the house.  I obviously don't know this as fact as I don't have a teenage son but from what I've heard, this is pretty darn close.

Toddlers can experience extreme mood swings if hungry and if not fed at an exact time they can become rather upset and sometimes volatile.  With a desire to devour any food in the house, they may potentially grab the food you were about to bite into right from under you without even batting an eyelid, just like a mini ninja!  

I also can’t imagine what the frustration must be like when all you want to say is ‘no, I don’t want to eat that baked potato with cheese and beans.  I’d prefer chicken strips with chips on the side, dash of tomato sauce and some sweet corn, please’.  I would go nuts!

I do my best to make sure that breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the same time each day with regular snacks in between.  If I'm out and about I will always take a packed lunch as well as snacks, especially if we are out over lunch time and am not near a shop or restaurant.

Without the ability to make food for herself you honestly can't blame little one for getting a bit grumpy with me if I don't serve her her meals on time!  Bad mommy!!!

3. Toddler Tiredness 
Adamant that they are not tired some can last for hours without a wink of sleep whilst others will simply sit down and fall asleep on the spot when they just can’t go on anymore.  Some will ask to go to sleep while others have to be bribed.  Some will only sleep on you and some will only sleep in their cot or bed.  It’s the continual development of their little characters and it is extremely interesting to see the differences in each child.

If my daughter has gone to bed too late/not had enough sleep/is woken up mid sleep cycle, the mood that she is in or wakes up in can be a bit of pot luck.  I understand and appreciate this.  I like my sleep and if I am tired or am woken up abruptly I can be like a bear with a sore head for a good while.  My husband knows this all too well.  I’m getting better in my old age but unfortunately toddler’s don’t have the joy of years of experience on their side (honestly, I'm not that old).

I try my best to stick to a strict nap time routine for my daughter of 1pm to 3pm and then bed time of 7.30pm.  Slight variations do occur but it is in everyone's best interest to stick to these times.  Things simply ‘are’ when you are a toddler and being woken up rudely just isn’t top on their list, and neither is being over tired.  

I think that as parents all we can do is try our best to be the best parents that we can be possibly be to our children.

Savour and enjoy every minute with your toddler!


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