My son is now sixteen months old and he is starting to test his boundaries with us. I knew parenting was hard and I know this toddler phase will only get harder as he grows and learns to talk more. I am taking the steps now while he’s still a bit young to become a more patient parent with him.
It’s beneficial to both of us, really. For starters, he’ll see me as calm and hopefully will learn to talk through his issues at an early age. That’s a pipe dream I realize, but a girl can dream for now. In reality, it’s more training for me to learn to deal with his tantrums in a calm and constructive manner. Some days, especially with working and not sleeping much, I can sense that I am impatient with him. That isn’t a side of me I like for him to see. I don’t want to be short with him. I don’t want to scare him. I really do want to work every day on being the best mom I can be.
I realize I will have bad days. We all do as parents. To say I’m going to be 100% the most patient mom will be a lie. I will get loud. I won’t be using an inside voice. I know there will be days where I go to bed upset and wish I could have changed everything I said or did. I know there will be days my son will be mad at me. I hope I can somehow train myself into having my first reaction come from a place of patience and understanding that he’s a toddler pushing boundaries.
Here are four simple steps you can work on today to help become a more patient parent to your toddler.
Step One: Take A Deep Breath
My first step will be to take a deep breath and count to five. This is ripped from Daniel Tiger and I’m not ashamed that a preschool show taught me something.
“When you feel so mad that you want to roar take a deep breath and count to four.”
That’s honest advice I can get behind. Besides the counting to four. I’ll give myself the extra second to become calmer and address the situation at hand. This is also fantastic advice for a young child. He or she will not overreact if they are able to take a deep breath, count, and calm themselves.
Step Two: Empathy
Learning empathy with toddlers is pretty important. I may not understand what’s the big deal with having my food touch or why he can’t wear red socks today, but recognizing their feelings and validating their emotions is really important when dealing with children. I have begun saying to him, even though he barely understands me, that I understand he is upset at the situation and ask him what we can do to fix it. I plan to look my son in the eye as we are having these hard conversations. I feel this will let him know I am here for him and he will want to tell me his feelings.
Step Three: Avoid Getting Loud
In addition to taking a deep breath, I am really working on the way I sound when Rion is upset and throwing a tantrum. I used to immediately jump to a very annoyed voice and got a bit squeaky with him. That didn’t help anything and honestly made me feel worse. I lower my voice after I take my deep breath and I am able to avoid yelling or getting squeaky.
Getting loud and squeaky helps in absolutely no situation anyway. This is good advice to follow in many places in your life.
Step Four: Recognize My Toddler’s Body Language
When he becomes upset, I need to recognize his body language and give him an outlet for that tension. Maybe it’s a pillow to let out some aggression, maybe it’s some quiet time away from us, or maybe it’s a hug from mom or dad.
Currently, because there is a language and understanding barrier, when Rion is upset the first thing out of my mouth is “I recognize you’re upset, how can I help you?” It’s become common place for me lately. I also pick him up and give him a big hug and once again letting him know that we can talk about his feelings. I hope through practicing now when he’s really throwing a terrible two or threenager tantrum I can address the situation as calmly as possible.
I have a few things I want to work on, too. I want to take a time out for myself if I can see myself going too far into the red. This is for me to recognize the tone of my voice and my own body language. I also need to take more time for myself to do the things I enjoy. I focus so much on work, being a mom, and being a wife that I never focus on being Ashley. I need to work on this because I think it will make me a better mom, a better wife, and a better me.
I want to be patient because I want Rion to learn patience. I want him to address situations as his parents would from a loving, calm, and empathetic place. I am practicing on becoming more patient now with him so in the future I can react exactly as I wish to.
At the end of the day, even on my worst days, I know there will be chocolate somewhere hidden in the house for me once Rion goes to bed. Chocolate may not fix everything, but it helps in the moment.
How do you deal with your child’s tantrums and emotions?