If YOU don't stop it right now...
KNOCK IT OFF!
At this point you've either completely checked out and walked way, fueled by frustration and exhaustion. Or, you've completely lost your cool... ranting and screaming, feeling like the worst person in the world and wondering, "Why am I acting the way I promised I never would?" How did that sweet squishy newborn, turn into a toddler that completely ignores every single thing that I say or ask? Why are they pushing boundaries? All. Day. Long.
I was this mom from time to time. Life happened, a fourth child magically appeared in my uterus with out warning or plan. The business got busier, the school work and social lives of the older two piled on. Weeks worth of laundry stacked up and every step forward never felt like an accomplishment, it felt like we kept sinking deeper and deeper in every day responsibilities. Patience was at an all time low, I knew how I wanted to communicate with my children, I just wasn't doing it. I was letting the things around me determine how I parented.
"I want a tookie!" (Henrietta's 'C's' are 'T's' right now)
The old 'take whatever you want' so I can finish: dinner, folding clothes, changing a diaper, emailing, just sitting...ect. Guess what? I paid for it later. Behavior all around was getting more and more challenging and not because they are bad children. Because they just wanted to be communicated with in a way that reflected love, respect, security in boundaries, and that we cared. I knew that ways I had talked in the past to the older two worked and I decided that I would try harder to put forth understanding. That these children are experiencing LIFE for the first time. Every day is new and shiny and a little bit scary. Toddlers are not acting like this to be vindictive or mean, even though it honestly can feel like they hate us. They are communicating in ways that get results. That means your 12-15 month old too. They tell us how they need us by ways that have worked before. Making a change means accepting that you won't see immediate results. You could, but more than likely there will be some set backs. Just because you communicate effectively one day and it works doesn't mean each time there will be perfect results. It means consistency is key and eventually, even though they are upset, children know what to expect from you.
"I want a tookie!"
*Get down to their level.
"I know you want a cookie! Cookies taste really yummy. But, right now it isn't cookie time."
"NO! I want a tookie!"
"Henrietta (still at her level), let's have a cookie after dinner. That's when mommy is having a cookie and I want to eat mine with you. Would you like to (insert fun activity they love here as a distraction) color a picture or read a book about Princess Sofia?!" (Sometimes this works, other times...)
"I know you are hungry, so lets choose something good for our tummy. You can have grapes or carrots. Which would you like?" (Choices....this is a whole other blog post folks!)
"Um, dapes please!"
This is how things typically work around here, never perfect, always changing but the main thing is the cookie isn't being given. I recognize she's most likely hungry and or bored and offer diversions away from the cookie. But, sometimes the persistence continues, because she's strong willed and as an adult that will hopefully get her far, as for right now when the inability to work with me is rejected, I calmly walk away. She may follow me crying, whining, and possibly screaming... but I don't give in, I ask her to take a deep breath or prompt her with, "what do we do when we get frustrated?" (Thanks Daniel Tiger!) She'll usually take a deep breath and respond with "stomp three times!" and then does it. Then I repeat her options again, acknowledging that I know she feels disappointed.
Parenting is hard. I am by no means an expert, I seek advice from my peers and try really hard to learn ways that can shape them into loving adults that respect and care for others. By communicating to them in a way that doesn't make them feel frightened, belittled, or unwanted. We are helping them to form positive ways to play with their peers, engage with adults, and work/exist in a healthy family structure, where everyone's feelings are acknowledged and respected.
Communication will be an on going topic here, a springboard for conversation that can hopefully enlighten each of us to help nurture our little ones into successful adults.
What are ways that you are struggling with communication? Are there things that you have tried that have worked?
This lifelong journey through parenthood shouldn't be traveled alone, support and community is key. I hope you can find encouragement and insight here to know that everything that you are going through is normal.
A book that I recommend for adults communicating with children of all ages is: 'How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk." I know, I know...read when? I have a zillion things going on! I promise you, you don't have to power through this in one sitting. It's an excellent reference guide with quick chapters and strategies that actually work. Communicating effectively from an early age will only make it easier as they grow... trust me!
GIVEAWAY! I want to send one of you this book. Leave a comment below and on Tuesday, May 31 at 9 A.M. CT , I'll announce a winner!
*Ashley L. You are the WINNER, email me your mailing address and I'll get this sent to you! Thank you all for reading and sharing your experiences!