Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All

Did you know that there is an online “Terrible Two’s” calculator?

You have 652 days – 4 hours – 41 minutes – and 9 seconds until your child is out of the terrible twos phase.

I find it so disturbing that we talk about children in this way.  I’m sure most parents don’t mean it with any malice but words are more powerful than we sometimes give them credit for.  If we talk about something as “terrible” and we are counting down the days until it is over how can we honestly be present in the moment?  I don’t think toddlerhood is something to be endured or to learn to cope with but something to enjoy.

That isn’t to say it isn’t a challenge.  But, remember that egocentric trap?  If we step back from that and imagine toddlerhood from your toddler’s perspective:

I’m a toddler and,

  1. I have trouble explaining myself because I don’t have a good grasp on language
  2. I *want* (really bad) to do everything myself but I’m not always capable
  3. I don’t have much experience with my emotions
  4. I have a hard time caring about other peoples’ feelings because I’m just grasping my own
  5. I’m learning that I’m separate from you and I have my own opinions (mostly? NO!)
  6. I’m learning that I get pleasure out of things (like a toy) or activities (like the park) and I have a really hard time letting go (sharing) or saying goodbye
  7. It seems like everyone over 4 ft. tall gets to make all the decisions!  It isn’t fair!

Can you imagine how some of these things would make you feel?  I think this is an area where parents need a change of perspective.  Imagine each of those toddlerisms with a positive spin,

  1. Every day my child is learning new words and how to express themselves
  2. My child has amazing perseverance and is learning how to do very complex tasks every week
  3. Every day my child is learning how to identify and express their emotions
  4. I know every time I name my child’s emotions or my own they are learning about empathy
  5. When my child says no it isn’t about me but evidence that he’s processing his thoughts and opinions and communicating them
  6. My child is learning about his preferences and how to care for his things
  7. By letting my child make some decisions he can learn high order thinking (and when I make the decisions I can explain why so he can see)

See?  It is just perspective!  Our writers today have some great tips and tricks to share as well.

The Terrible Two (and Two Parenting Strategies to Replace Them)

Dionna at Code Name: Mama (guest post on Good Goog) defines the terrible two’s for us,

Terrible Twos
Function: noun
1. An annoying alliteration used to describe the emotional breakdowns that occur (in both toddlers and parents) when parents spend more time attempting to control behavior and engage forced cooperation than they do in nurturing their toddlers’ natural growth, independence, and curiosity;
2. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

She tells us that the real terrible two is spanking and yelling which are counterproductive, depriving your child of valuable expression.

Allowing your toddler to fully express his feelings has both short and long-term benefits. In the short-term, he will recover more quickly from emotional and physical hurts if he feels that he has been heard and acknowledged. In the long-term, allowing your toddler to experience his full range of emotions will help him “become emotionally resilient and capable of facing and resolving difficulties. [Children] must experience living with emotional storms if [they are] to master them[1. Aldort, Naomi, “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves”].”

She has a great technique that will be a salve on your frazzled nerves (teehee, play on words  – trust me go check it out)

Gentle Parenting Ideas from a Toddler’s Perspective

On her own blog, Dionna also has a moving letter in the voice of her toddler.  This reminds me of Rambling Rachel’s article about Cry-it-out – if our kids could tell us what they think our parenting might be vastly different.  Dionna’s toddler gives us pointers on six common “issues” for parents.  One example, is his advice about dinnertime,

Sometimes I get overwhelmed sitting in my booster seat when all I want to do is run around and celebrate the fact that papa is home from work. And sometimes I’m just not that hungry – I am learning about my body’s hunger cues, so it’s probably best not to force me to eat. It’s nice when I have the option of eating at other times, and grazing is a great way to keep me on an even keel all day.

There’s a tear jerker in there too (for me at least) so take a hanky and go hear the little guy’s perspective.

A Positive View on Tantrums

Lisa at Edenwild tackles the big fear with toddlers …Tantrums.  She points out that although tantrums are normally seen in a negative light they are actually good.

I see [tantrums] as a good thing. My child is expressing himself, and I have an opportunity to listen. My child is upset, and I have an opportunity to let him know that I am there for him. I can show him that I will always be there for him, regardless of his mood, or how he behaves, or even if he is angry with me. I know he is not being naughty. On the contrary, he is doing something he very much needs to do–he is releasing his emotions. In a society where men are suspected of dying younger than women because they are better at bottling up their emotions, I see a healthy emotional release as a very good thing. And, when he has gotten it all out, he feels better than he did before the tantrum occurred. Isn’t that a good thing?

I think viewing tantrums as an opportunity to be seized rather than a problem to be endured is a great idea!

Gentle Parenting During Toddler Tantrums

Krista at Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense continues on the same vein with parenting during tantrums.  She points out that we treat our babies with respect by

spend[ing] countless hours responding to their cries and talking them through their cries “It’s okay baby, your diaper is wet but mommy is going to change it” or “Aww you’re a hungry baby! It’s time to nurse you again”.  Gradually our babies start to tell us or show us what they need and the crying becomes less.

And yet when they are toddlers we suddenly expect them to understand without explanation.  What if instead we remembered that they do need help.

We can give them the words they are lacking. Just like we did when they were infants “I know it’s frustrating for you when the toys don’t work like you want. Would you like some help?

Krista has several great examples for working with your child through a tantrum or avoiding them altogether.

I have often heard that parents are most likely to spank children under 5 because by 5 years old the child is better able to understand and control themselves and thus listen and obey.  How awful is it that we are spanking a child because they are developmentally unable to understand and control their emotions.  Aren’t these the children that most deserve our patience and understanding?  I hope today’s posts gave you some great ideas for embracing toddlerhood – tantrums and all!

Tomorrow is the last day of our carnival and we have some special surprises and the poll will be opening for you to vote on your favorite post this week!  One of our wonderful writers that have shared so much with us to promote gentle discipline will win a $25 gift certificate at Wild Mother Arts.  Wild Mother Arts is beautiful fertility, birth, and nursing jewelry made by a doula, breastfeeding counselor, and mother of 3.  Visit her on Facebook or Twitter.

So, please stop back tomorrow to celebrate a wonderful week of gentle parenting!

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA.  In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent?  Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!

Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All


12 thoughts on “Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All

  1. Pingback: I Have The Urge To Spank But I Choose Not To | Breastfeeding Moms Unite

  2. Pingback: Choosing Joy « Raising My Boychick

  3. Pingback: Choosing gentle discipline « hybrid life

  4. Pingback: Creating a “Yes” Environment

  5. Pingback: Choosing Not to Spank

  6. Pingback: 50’s Childhood

  7. Pingback: Welcome to the Carnival! What is Gentle Discipline?

  8. Pingback: Gentle Discipline 101

  9. Pingback: False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

  10. Pingback: Carnival of Gentle Discipline Call For Submissions…now with 100% more button!

I'd love to hear your comments or questions!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s