I ended up having a really good day with my toddler! I only lost my cool, say, three times? That’s an improvement on what it’s typically been because our nearly three-year-old drives me nuts sometimes (OK, many times). Here are a few methods I’ve learned and used that have helped immensely:
- Drop the rope. There is a saying when it comes to arguments you don’t want to partake in: “drop the rope.” I would say this applies especially well to toddlers, whose crazy brain development/activity and need for independence creates power struggles in almost all situations. Case in point: My toddler has become increasingly difficult when it comes to bathtime. Running away, saying no, it’s super frustrating for me. Until I figured out how present bathtime in a way that appeals to him: I talk about his dinosaurs joining us for the bath. I did that today and no more struggle bus with the bath. So give up the power struggle and play on their terms!
2. Get off the phone. I mitigate how much I’m on my phone because I notice my phone usage has a direct correlation to heightened anxiety. I use my phone to disassociate because truth is, parenthood can be very lonely (especially on Saturdays when I’m at it alone). And the phone is my escape. But in addition to triggering my anxiety, it also takes me away from my kids…and they notice it. The toddler behaves much better when I’m present with him and off my phone. And while it can be hard sometimes to put the phone away, my mental health and my love of mommyhood benefit immensely.
3. Give yourself a time out. Yesterday I yelled at my toddler (not my best moment) because he was playing tug of war with me and my computer charger. He would not let go and he thought it was funny (it absolutely was not). I yelled at him to stop and immediately felt awful. So I went to the bedroom, laid down, and took a few breaths.
I wish there could be do-overs for moments like those. But all I can do is make better decisions in my next moments. Taking some time away to ground myself and breathe, helps.
4. Accept the crazy. I know that without fail, my toddler is going to annoy me. My biggest gripe with him is how he manhandles and irritates our 19-month-old. From bumping into him to taking toys away from him, to hitting him, it drives me and hubby up the wall. We have tried to address this issue with many approaches, and none seem to work. So I just say: accept the crazy! Our two guys are 15 months apart and we never leave them alone together because the older one is just crazy – and doesn’t know any better!
So there it is! Drop some ideas in the comments below on how YOU deal with your toddler if you have any advice to give.