I sleepily pad my way downstairs, cuddly toddler in my arms. He’s busy giving me kisses. His cheeks are soft and warm and as ever, his nose is streaming. Wet soggy perfect kisses. We reach the breakfast table and I get him a bowl of porridge. That’s when it starts. The howling, the screaming, the agony of being a toddler. It certainly is tough being a toddler, but it is also tough being the parent of a toddler.
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I have twin three year old toddlers. Perhaps they are a little too old to label toddlers but they still behave like toddlers. They are still unable to express themselves articulately. They still have tantrums and they still do a lot of screaming.
The terrible twos seem to extent into the “thorny threes”.
Somedays, the screaming starts before breakfast and feels like it never stops.
Being the parent of a toddler is not only frustrating, it is also exhausting.
However, it is also great fun. These toddler years are so precious and they fly past so it’s best to make the most of them whilst you can.
Toddlers are at a tricky stage. They are changing from baby into “big boy boy” or “big boy girl” as my kids say.
There is so much to learn. Talk about overwhelming.
They frequently get frustrated because the world isn’t EXACTLY as they want it and they also have problems verbalising their thoughts.
Toddlers need to explore and find out exactly how this world of ours words.
How Can Parents Survive the Terrible Twos? (Or Thorny Threes?)
- Understand your own triggers and have a stop valve. It’s perfectly normal to want to scream at your children. Seriously, there are days when I want to scream every half an hour. I have learnt to be a happy parent. I look out for the signals, the things that tell me I’m about to explode. And then I stop, I breathe, I relax. There are so many things that you can do, find something that works for you.
- Make Time for yourself. Parenting can be all consuming, especially if you are trying to juggle work and connecting with your kids. It’s not the amount of time that you spend with your children, it’s the quality of time. It’s really important that you make time for you too. You’ll actually find it easier to be a better, more relaxed and happy parent.
- Be Patient. I know, so much easier said then done. But when you’re getting cross, remind yourself that your child is only terrible two or three and has a TOTALLY different agenda to you.
- Look at it from their point of view. Who cares whether you eat your dinner out of a blue bowl or a green one? It’s such an unimportant detail to us, but to our kids, it’s really important. They really care.
- Try a hug. Hugs are great to reduce the amount of emotion in the air. They help to calm everyone down.
- Set boundaries. Toddlers aren’t wilfully naughty. They are just testing the boundaries. They are learning where the lines lie. Of course they want to do everything their way but that isn’t always possible. You set the boundaries and stick to them. Getting the balance right is the hard bit and it’s a good idea to let them win from time to time.
- Encourage independence. It’s a good thing that your toddler wants to do everything by himself. It’s especially frustrating when you’re in a rush but it’s how they learn.
- Don’t rush. Sit back and enjoy life at the pace of a toddler. When you try to rush a toddler you both just end up feeling frustrated.
- Find the Fun. Let go of the things that aren’t important. Does it really matter that they’ve splashed water all over the floor? See the fun that they are having and enjoy it.
- Repeat what they say. Have you ever noticed how your toddler says the same thing fifty times in a row? Like an old fashioned record player stuck in a groove. They are waiting for you to acknowledge what they say before they move on. Try repeating what they say as a question. “My teddy! My teddy! My teddy!” “Is that your teddy sweetheart?” “yes! That my teddy!”
The terrible twos and the thorny threes are definitely challenging. But they are also a great opportunity to bond with your child, to lay the foundations of a great relationship.
After several minutes of shouting and screaming, Sebastian, my thorny three year old stops. As suddenly as it starts. In an instant, it is forgotten.
He sits down to his bowl of porridge, smiles and gets on with his breakfast.
Can you avoid all tantrums, all shouts, all screams? Of course you can’t but you can learn to enjoy parenting a toddler despite the tantrums.
Happy You, Happy Family
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