We of course love our kids no matter what, but the toddler years. Lord have mercy, the toddler years. If you’ve been around a little person longer than 20 minutes or have air in your lungs, you know what I’m talking about. They grunt, scream, whine, cry and tantrum as they try to work out their little emotions and communicate their tyrannical feelings to us.
I’m guiding and teaching my precious toddler the best I can as we try to understand each other. One day we will honeymoon again. But in the meantime, I found 10 ways to fall back in love with a toddler as we all try to ride this crazy wave back out to sanity!
Do you need help with a toddler too? Try this:
1. Look at the camera roll on your phone. I was clearing out space on my phone and came across pictures and videos from when my toddler first started walking, it gets me every time. I watched them over and over. Even in pictures from just a few months prior, you will see how much they’ve already changed and find a renewed affection for them. Do this while they’re sleeping so you can get some time alone to appreciate it.
2. Sit down with them after their worst tantrum (or day) and just hold them. Sometimes they just want time with you. My toddler used to push me away from the kitchen island when I would be making a shopping list or trying to prep dinner. I hadn’t realized he had grown into a little person with social needs, and auto-pilot wouldn’t work anymore.
You know what? The dishes will never be done, the laundry will never be done, so just take a few minutes and just sit and really be present snuggling them. It also renews their will to play on their own and be good. Sometimes you both just need a good, full-attention snuggle.
3. Let someone else take care of them for a while. This seems obvious, but you truly need a break from each other. You need a break from them, and they need a break from you. Don’t feel guilty about it.
Separation anxiety is a very normal thing at this stage; I have dropped my child off kicking and screaming and full-on tantruming, but if I didn’t get a break for a few hours, I was headed straight to CrazyTown. There is such a thing as too much togetherness. It makes you grouchy and that doesn’t help anyone. Take a break.
4. Remember they are still learning. I say this to his older brother a hundred times a day when he’s trying to play with legos or build something his little brother is trying to destroy. I need this reminder too, they are still learning. And they are learning from you, especially in the way of handling emotions. I try to remember that they are both watching how I handle things, and they imitate what I say. (I still end up yelling sometimes, but it definitely helps.)
5. Remember to praise the good stuff. There is a lot of bad behavior at this stage, so be sure to praise the good stuff. Praising the good behavior will hopefully foster more of it. As much as they test you, they really do want to please. When we are at the grocery store and my toddler is being good, I tell him so that it, hopefully, continues.
6. Teach them something new. I think they’re such pains because they’re curious and want to explore everything, they want to learn. Once when I was folding laundry, I gave him some dish rags and showed him how to do a simple fold. He spent a lot of time practicing that so I was able to get the other clothes done. I wanted to refold, but I resisted and put the rags in the drawer the exact way he folded them; he felt so proud.
7. Give them exercise and freedom. A simple walk around outside in the yard can give them a good taste of freedom. I think they feel restricted a lot, though we are doing our jobs in keeping them safe. (It’s good for you to get out, too.) We would do this in the mornings after getting big brother on the school bus when the weather was nice. As toddler, I’ve always like to take the boys with me to the high school track and let them run around where it is safely fenced.
8. Know that they are listening. They sure don’t seem like it do they? But they are. I about died the time I asked him to give a toy back to his brother that he stole away, and he did it. They know what you want them to do, they just want to do it in their time, and think it was their idea.
And once, older brother came up to him after a tantrum and said, “It’s okay little guy, mommy loves you no matter what.” I almost cried. They are listening.
9. Think of them crossing the stage at their high school graduation, getting their diploma. They’re only toddlers for a few years. As hard as I wish for graduation day to get here sooner, I will be a big, heaping pile of tears when it gets here. All of these struggles in the younger years will pay off. Plus, the toddler years are prime for taking all of the cute pictures to embarrass them with later.
10. Know they are acting out because they feel safe. Someone once told me kids act out when they know they are in a safe and secure environment. It changed my world. If knowing they feel safe and secure with you doesn’t make you feel better about life, I don’t know what will!
So get your war paint on and get back out there! And keep the wine on standby.