Let’s talk about the time Louis slapped me across the face.
Here’s the scene: Louis wants to have a sip of soda from my cup.... I’m holding him, I said “oh no that’s mommy’s soda, your cup is right here” in the nicest possible voice... he reaches out to grab for his cup (or so I think)... but then WHAM! Right in the face, open palm and all. And it hurt – there’s a lot of force in those chubby little hands. I thought terrible started at two, not at one and a half.
Let’s rewind to the week before this incident when I was at the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s conference on Curriculum Development and Guiding Children’s Behavior, where I was soaking up knowledge
from very educated people on how to handle challenging behaviors. I learned that when children exhibit challenging behaviors it is our job as parents and educators to guide them in the right path, that children are not aggressive on
purpose, but rather because they haven’t learned impulse control and they don’t know any better. I nodded my head along with the speaker thinking “that’s right, if children don’t know their letters, we teach them. If children don’t know how to tie their shoes, we teach them. If children don’t know how to behave, we teach them.”
These are not the thoughts that ran from my stinging cheek to my head that day. It hurt and I almost dropped him on his little cushiony bum. Instead, I took a deep breath, looked at his angry little face, held it together and said “Louis you look very angry. You need to keep your hands on your own body, you hurt mommy.” Then he hit me in the face again. Did I mention we were at grandma’s house and my mom was watching? So I knew I had to get it right. I put him down and said “No thank you Louis. That hurts me.”
We all know what followed – the kicking, the screaming, the hitting the floor. During his tantrum, I said “You are angry now, but you will feel better soon.” After his tantrum, I handed him his cup again and gave him a snuggle.
Toddlers get angry, really, really, angry – that's no secret. Getting angry and expressing their emotions is a developmental milestone for toddlers. Identifying emotions is the first step in managing emotions. When your toddler
is angry, or happy, or sad – help them by labeling the emotion. If they are sad or angry, tell them it will get better. When it does get better, they will start to regard you as an emotional expert (even if you aren’t one!).
As usual, this ended up being more of a learning experience for me than it was for him. I have almost three decades of life learning on how to control my anger and I almost lost my temper, no wonder he got so angry and didn’t know what to do. Poor little guy, he’s got so much to learn – but luckily he’s got calm and loving adults to guide him and help him through. Plus, there’s always good hugs at the end – and who doesn’t love hugs? Thinking about it that way even takes the terrible out of the twos for me.... well mostly.
Great Resource: http://www.zerotothree.org/
Bedtime is a time that I cherish, that I look forward to, that I plan for and daydream about. However, the love and appreciation of bedtime is wisdom that comes with age. Louis does not feel the same way. Bedtime is a time that Louis dreads, avoids, plans to evade, and probably has nightmares about – for he is a toddler, and he is convinced that going to bed means missing something exciting and fun. After a week or so of the nightly routine of Louis yelling, screaming, and tantruming I decided to consult Miss Cathy – his teacher. I needed reassurance that I was not, indeed, torturing my child by wanting him to go to bed. Here are the pointers I picked up:
Now I am lucky in my bedtime battle because Louis does not yet know that he can try to climb out of his crib, so half the battle is won. I am secondarily lucky because when he was in infant I bought him a mobile that, unbeknownst to me, also turns into a projector that now makes a picture show on his ceiling. So here is our bedtime routine, which has virtually eliminated the night-mare from night-night time.
It took Louis a couple of nights of yelling “Mama! Mama! Mama!” before he really understood that I wasn’t coming back (unless he was jumping out of his crib or crying enough to make himself sick – but he doesn’t know those tricks….yet) and that it was time to go to bed. The projector works miracles and helps him drift off to sleep. Even though I have to sacrifice a lot of my playtime with him in the evening, and for working parents the evening is sometimes all we have, I rest assured knowing he needs his sleep and this is the best plan for us right now. I am sure, however, that Louis will request, quite forcefully, that we re-negotiate the bedtime peace treaty in a few months.
Let's talk about how the baby is smarter than I am - ok Correct semantics would be how he outsmarts me daily. As I have never had an official IQ test and neither has he, I will refrain from making any permanent judgments for now. Apologies, I digress - so in this blog I will take a moment to enumerate the times in which Louis has outsmarted me as well as the times that I chose not to listen to him when I clearly should have.
1. When i said "you can have a cookie when your dinner is all gone" and Louis promptly dumped his plate on the floor and said "all gone!"
2. When I told Louis not to take all the clothes out of the laundry basket and throw them on the floor because they were dirty and he put them in the toilet instead and said "wata! All keen".
3. When I was cooking dinner and Louis said "uh oh" and I said "what? Mommy didn't spill anything" then stepped in the milk he had dumped on the floor.
4. When I was changing Louis for school and he pointed to where i had put his pants and said "wha tha?" without looking (first mistake) I said "your pants." he said "wha tha?" and I said, still without looking (second mistake, or maybe
just an extension of the original mistake) "your pants!" he said "NO WHA THA" at which point I thought to myself - he has already been told they are his pants, time to ignore his questions and focus on getting dressed (third and biggest
mistake) and proceeded to reach for his pants and - surprise - the dog had left a present on the carpet. For the sake of my pride I will let you infer what happened next.
Let's be honest - I could go on and on here. These instances just keep driving the point home for me - whether I want to admit it or not, my little guy is growing and growing and learning about the world around him every second of every day. It is a tough job to keep up. So the Lesson learned? Easy - listening to the baby, excuse me - the toddler, will save you from a whole bunch of....poop.
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