Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Parenting is complex. There are so many different parenting techniques and styles out there. I personally, don’t put any label on my my style of parenting. I probably use methods of many different types, and this can change on the daily too. I have found, it is all about trial and error. What works for someone else, may not work for you. What worked yesterday, may not work today. Sometimes, things are a complete fail, other times you may actually feel like you’re nailing this parenting thing, but then all of a sudden you are knocked off your high horse. So you’re a parent to a toddler now – welcome to a whole new world 😉
Humans are complex. We are not robots, and therefore, there is not one perfect formula for parenting. What works for your children will depend on a whole array of things, such as their personality, age, emotional maturity, and the list goes on. You may even find that certain things work, but then as the children get older you need to change tactics again. Emotions can be hard for even the healthiest of adults to deal with. As you know, there are many adults who suffer from depression and other health issues, which can heavily influence their emotional and mental wellbeing. I’m not comparing the real-life struggles of an adult to those of a child – but how can we expect this tiny human to instantly know how to deal with all their emotions? So you’re a parent to a toddler now – you need to understand that the fact they can’t always do what they want, when they want it, is upsetting. To us the issues may seem trivial, but to them, it is their whole world. They don’t have the bigger stresses to worry about – financial issues, relationships, work etc etc (remember those days?!). They live more in the present and focus on what is happening right now; what toys they want to play with, which snack to eat. Oh, to live this carefreely again, right?! Something that is a constant learning curve for me, is teaching them how to handle all the emotions. There are many days I don’t even know how to process all my own emotions properly! How I feel, hugely impacts how well I can handle the emotion-filled tantrums and arguments. If I’ve had enough sleep, other factors going on in life, eg if I’ve just had an argument with my husband, hormones (this is a HUGE one for me!!)….and a miriad of other stresses. This is why they say you can’t pour from an empty cup and it’s important to take care of yourself!
I’m sorry to say, that, no, I am not going to share some big parenting secret with you. Anyone who knows me and my children, knows that I most certainly do not have it all together, haha! I just wanted to say, that none of us really know what we are doing! There is no magic formula. It is all trial and error. Admitting when you failed, then getting back up and trying again. Something I actually read really recently interested me, and I decided to try out a few of the tips. Amazingly, they actually seemed to work! (well in that particular scenario anyway).
Mr I (who is 3.5) was having a huge emotional meltdown for getting in trouble about something. In this moment, there was no reasoning with him. There was no having a conversation. He probably wouldn’t have even heard anything I said. So I sat him down, and let him cry. I didn’t look at him, just quietly sat there. I simply said to him (in a non-condescending, calm manner), let all your crying out and when you are finished and ready, I will talk to you. I guess I know from my own experiences too, sometimes when you need to have a cry, it feels really good to just let it out. Then after the emotional purge, you are somewhat more ready to face the issue. We need to teach our children it is ok to have emotions; we are human. But it’s about helping them to deal with those emotions in a healthy way. After maybe five minutes, Mr I’s crying subsided down to little sniffles. I asked him if he was ready to talk now? He said yes. I then asked if he was ready to listen to me? He said yes. I stayed at his level, and kept eye contact with him. I spoke calmly about what had happened and asked him questions about it, to ensure he understood our conversation. We then hugged and moved on. It’s important not to hold a grudge about it - don’t continue to bite his ear off about it for the next half an hour (even if inside you are still not over it!). Leave it for now. Move on to something happy and positive. If possible, now spend a bit of time with them, even if it’s just reading a book or cuddling on the couch. Make sure they know you still love them. Forgive and forget – something many adults need to work on!! Later on I spoke to him again and reiterated certain things to ensure he had comphrehended and remembered them, and he had. In that example, this approach seemed to help and I will continue to try it in the future. It may not always work. It may work for a season, but then as he gets older, I may need to try something new.
P.S. I am FAR from a pro at this parenting gig. I have many, many days, where I feel like a failure. Some days there are raised voices, lots of tears (from all of us) and lots of frustration. So you’re a parent of a toddler now - they’re no longer a baby and with that comes new learning curves. Personally, my hormones really impact my mood and how I handle the tantrums and the whinging. I try to not let it, but as I’ve said we are human! During those days, if at all possible, it can help to try and have a minute to yourself to recompose. Fill the bath up with bubbles and toys for the children to play in, put on a movie with snacks to entertain them, give them the ipad with an educational activity, give them one of their favourite activities that requires minimal supervision and intervention (eg stickers, blocks, trains, doll house). If you have more than one child – if possible, separate them! Put the baby in a playpen or baby swing, put the toddler in their bedroom or playroom. Take a minute to have a cup of coffee (or some chocolate) and recompose yourself.
The sibling fighting is definitely one of my number one triggers. I can’t stand the screaming and the fighting, and it is often when I lose my cool. My husband is really good at coming home to this chaos and instantly separating them – each in their own bedrooms (which are filled with toys/activities) and then all of a sudden, all is calm again! Like why didn’t I think of that 20 minutes ago before trying to distract them/asking them nicely 10 times and then yelling like a crazy lady to STOP! (why is it always when you are trying to cook dinner or get something productive done that they act up?!) Sometimes they just need to play in their rooms for 5 minutes to settle down and then they’re ready to reunite.
All mamas out there feel the same. I for one, often feel like I have no idea what I am doing. So you’re a parent to a toddler now - raising tiny humans, along with all their emotions (and our emotions!), is tricky, simply because there is not a óne size fits all’solution. If you find something that works for you, great! Do it! Talking about it has certainly helped me, some people have amazing ideas and tips that work! Sometimes, it may work for their child, but not with yours. And that’s okay too! We are all in this together, figuring out this mum thing. We don’t need to ‘mum shame’ each other! It’s none of your business what parenting style someone else uses!! Unless children are being abused, (which of course is a whole different story – please tell someone) otherwise, butt out! If she chooses no-screen time and it works – great! If she chooses to use time-out and it works – great! If she chooses to use the counting method and it works – great! And if it doesn’t work – well maybe she is trying a new method. Maybe she has exhausted all the other options and they haven’t worked. Maybe she is running on 2 hours sleep and has come to the park to get out of the house because her toddlers were running around the house screaming, driving her mad. STOP JUDGING! You have no idea what is going on in people’s lives. They could have a chronic illness they are living with, a child with special needs, financial strain, or could just be having a bad day! We need to encourage and support each other, not judge and shame. Smile at the other mum’s at the park! Maybe they’re having an awesome day and winning at this parenting thing, maybe they are one whinge away from completely losing it. Love each other, support each other, #mumsunite.
So mamas, hang in there. We can and will get through this. You’re not alone!
Keep smiling, we’ve got this!
Until next time,