Monday, March 14, 2011

Dealing with anger

A is all grown up.

Well, I guess I should say, she's no longer considered a "baby." She is now, by expert definition, a toddler. And THAT means we are slowly entering the toddler phase - full of its ups and downs, smiles and tears.

Many people argue that there is no such thing as the "Terrible Twos;" that this is a phase we have created ourselves due to our lax parenting skills (we coddle our children and give them everything they want, therefore they throw tantrums whenever things don't go their way). Some parents argue there's no such thing as the Terrible Twos because they've been blessed with the angel child who is submissive and rarely ever cries unless injured.

I think that the outcome of this phase all depends on the personality of the child. Certainly, if you've had an easy baby all along, chances are you'll have a fairly easy go of things during the toddler phase. But if you've ended up with a whirling dirvish as your child, there may be some challenges.

My own challenge will be keeping my anger in check. It does nobody any good when Mom joins the foray of yelling and screaming. Case in point: yesterday morning I made A and me some french toast for breakfast. I even sprinkled a tiny bit of maple syrup on her piece, which I was sure she would gobble up (I mean, what kid doesn't enjoy sugar once in a while?). But would she try even one single bit? Not a chance! She took a look at her plate for a while, handed it to me and said "done?"

I have tried not to stress out about what A eats, but I'm a firm believer that everyone needs to eat breakfast. I think it's a little suspect when people claim they're able to go until noon without eating anything (do this, and you'll end up eating a huge dinner and late night snack, which certainly doesn't help your metabolism). If I don't eat within half an hour of waking up, I'm irritable and shaky. Don't forget, food feeds our brains!

So, I decided to use the leftover egg mix to scramble up for A. I know she loves scrambled eggs, as she eats them all the time. I put the plate down on her tray and she immediately began screaming and waving her arms around, tossing the egg (and plate) into the air. Egg went everywhere - on the wall, the floor and even on our poor dog Darcy (Darcy has become used to being hit with flying objects while A eats). She was still screaming when I slammed the plate down on the kitchen table, and began yelling back at her that "this is unacceptable! You don't throw good food on the floor!"

I could have saved my breath (and probably my sanity) by calmly getting her down from her chair, informing her that we don't throw food in our house, and asking her to help wipe up the egg with a cloth. But instead, I ended up angry and upset, and she stood in the dining room crying and stomping her foot. Not good for either of us.

My goal this week, and while we're away on vacation, is to learn how to breath through my annoyance/anger before taking any steps. Remember the whole "count to 10" advice? I think this is truly an important thing to do when disciplining a toddler. After all, they don't respond to the same kind of discipline you would use with a 5-year old. And yelling at your kids at any age only makes matters worse.

How do you discipline your toddler? Pass along your tips (except spanking, which is not an acceptable form of punishment for our family!)

1 comment:

  1. Disciplining a oxymoron. It's taken us three children to learn this. We have picked the BIG things that we work on (e.g. hitting/biting/hurting is not okay...throwing food etc. is annoying but not a big deal otherwise). Toddlers just don't have the cognitive ability to relate consequences to their behaviour. So time outs are silly for a 2 year old. They are entirely frustrating, and even my easy babies became psychotic within weeks of their second birthday. They didn't really grow out of it till close to four. Haha!
    I lose my cool often. I try to model calm rationale as often as I can, but it's not always possible or easy. I always regret it when I lose it. But it's a hard job, and toddlers can really drive you crazy.
    Have you read "You Are Your Child's First Teacher"? I highly recommend it...wish I'd read it before I had my first child. Gave me a lot of perspective on all the stages of development, and respect for my children at all their different phases.
    Good luck...get my phone number from Julie if you want to give me a call!!


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