Toddlers can be extremely challenging at the best of times. Kicking, screaming, throwing food and public meltdowns are often the daily norm so it’s no wonder we burst into tears and blame ourselves. We shouldn’t take toddler behaviour personally though and here’s why.
1. Toddlers are meant to be difficult
Terms like ‘terrible two’s and ‘threenager’ weren’t invented for nothing! Like a baby learning to crawl, when children become toddlers they also find their ability to assert themselves and boy do they love to do it. Every day they learn new tricks and are constantly stimulated. They’re developing at such a fast pace that it’s no wonder it all gets a bit much for them sometimes.
Know this though – you are not alone in this battle. Almost every single other toddler will act out at some point or another (or every 30 minutes as was the case with my kids). I remember feeling so relieved when my neighbour told me she used to hide in her vegetable garden with a glass of wine when her son was in a toddler rage. It meant my children’s behaviour was normal – and I was normal for wanting to run away and hide too.
2. Their behaviour is not aimed at you
Sure they just threw a ball in your face, but it wasn’t for you. They would have thrown that at anyone. Toddler tantrums are a cry for attention, a sign of frustration, or a calling card for hunger, tiredness or illness. When they have a meltdown, they don’t know what they’re doing because they’ve already passed over to the dark side and have become temporarily irrational, irate and insane. It’s your job to hold them tight, bring the calm, and help them get down off that tiny ledge.
So don’t take it personally; this isn’t an attack on you. Sure it’s hard to remember that when you’re constantly being tested and sleep deprived to boot, but remembering it’s not personal can be a lifesaver when you think things can’t get any worse.
3. Your child is not a brat
It’s easy to think your child hates you when they repeatedly do or say hurtful things, but it’s not the case. In those moments they hate pretty much everyone so don’t worry unnecessarily. You have not created a devil child – they are just doing devilish things.
Another good thing to remember is that a feisty, stubborn or challenging child is much more common than a super quiet one who shows limited personality, speech or development, giving you more serious reasons for concern. Knowing what you want and striving to get it (even if it’s ridiculous and unrealistic) is a good life skill after all!
4. You ARE a good parent
When your child constantly acts out it’s easy to think you’re to blame. Somewhere, somehow you must have gone wrong – maybe you didn’t read enough parenting books, spoiled them too much or didn’t eat the right things when pregnant? Wrong. Trust me, unless you’re giving your kids Coca Cola for breakfast and letting them stay up til 3am every night, your toddler’s behaviour is just part of being a toddler. They are toddlers and being a-holes a lot of the time is what they do best.
Just keep setting those boundaries, don’t give in, stay calm, avoid challenging situations wherever possible (like don’t leave chocolate out at dinner time), try and laugh it off and be comforted knowing that one day in the not too distant future this terrible, terrible toddler phase will pass.
Good thing they’re also pretty cute hey?!