Being a mom of a two year old is not easy, being a single mom of a two year old is definitely not easy. Out of nowhere my sweet loving little monkey has turned into an angry gorilla on a rampage searching through the jungle we call a kitchen for juice and snacks. Patience (and a glass of Moscato) have become by best friends. My heart hurts to see my son go through his daily turmoil all because I said no to more fruit snacks or a cookie, but I think in time he will learn limits.
I realize the world to a two year old can be frustrating and I’ve adjusted to giving my son his space while still being very available to him. I’ve also learned that his levels of frustrations can vary from mildly annoyed that the car won’t stay on the top of the pile-up he constructed to the I can’t take this and I’m kicking and tossing all the toys out of my way but you still can’t help me figure it out because I want to tackle this on my own stage. The kid knows what he wants and how he wants it but still can’t grasp the concept, if at first you don’t succeed try and try again. But I know it will eventually click but for now we have to tread through the waters of having a toddler in the house.
Some insight I have found from reading endless articles online is:
1) My toddler is trying to establish his independence- what does this mean? Independence!? He is only 2. But to him he wants to tackle the jobs he sees such as eating with a fork and drinking out of the cup. Pick the time and place he will use the bathroom and decide that he would rather have yogurt for dinner rather than the green and yellow veggies on his plate. His imagination is running wild with ideas. Which leads me to point 2.
2) My toddler will get frustrated, over and over and over again. He has the end result in his mind but as much as he tries he cannot make it happen. And his only outlet at exerting his frustrations is the screaming crying fits he goes into. I’ve learned to notice the signs of frustration and try to avoid the melting point. I’m also being more reasonable. Sure he refused to eat his dinner but I will still give him the piece of fruit he might request. I’ve also mastered the art of letting him know why something is not getting done. And of course, if it reaches the point of no return my arms are there to comfort him until he decides to try something else.
What have I done to help my toddler be a happy toddler:
Of course I make sure he gets plenty of rest. Just because he’s bigger does not mean he gets less naps. When my little man was around a year old he started to just do one nap during the day and sleep through the night. Now at almost 3yrs old he is still doing his nap during the day. On occasions the nap might get skipped due to our activities and on those days this mama is looking at an early bed time. WOO HOOO. His nap can range from 45 min to about 3 hours but when he wakes up, he wakes up eager to see what the world has to offer him. Not cranky at all.
I give him more choices. What cars or trains we play with, what books we read at night, if he wants to sit down and draw or play with play-doh. Plain and simple choices. This works out well because we can still control the environment without having a bunch of things going on at once. Also he is learning that to move on to the next activity we have to clean up. This has been a difficult concept to have him learn. I know he’s really good at cleaning up at daycare but for me: not so much. But I know we will get there. I use this technique especially when he starts to show frustration with his current task. The blocks are not building as high as he wants, he just keeps at it but I can see his anger building. If I try to just say ok we won’t play this anymore he seems to get even more upset. With him knowing we have another option or toy to play with he seems to accept the change better and allows me the time to clean up and bring out the other toys.
And finally, when he does melt down, because he will melt down, I’m there open arms kissing and rubbing his back letting him just cry his heart out until he feels better. Most time I feel like the bad person because I can’t quite figure out what he wanted. My heart melts every time he sheds a single tear but I also know that it’s a part of his development to go through the process.
I have found some great websites that help me navigate the toddler world. Most have great forums where you can post and ask questions and get responses from other like minded moms who have gone or are going through the same things. Remember we are not alone. No reason to feel like you are.
How did you navigate the terrible 2’s or 3’s? What were your tips to a happy toddler?