Toddlers. Need I say more. The word itself encompasses a host of different meanings. Toddlers are unpredictable, temperamental and downright mean at times. They can test the patience of even the calmest mother. Then, there’s other instances where they are sweet as pie.
These tiny humans are stuck in a phase between striving for independence and needing you every single minute of the day.
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One second your toddler is hitting you and throwing a full-blown tantrum. The next second your little darling fell asleep cuddling in your arms.
As a mom of a toddler, I know what you’re going through. Sometimes, I briefly wonder if I made the right decision to have children.
But then, my toddler looks at me with those beautiful blue eyes, melting my heart instantly. I soon forget all about the hour long tantrum that ensued because I didn’t let him throw himself headfirst off the couch.
Oh, the joys of mommyhood.
We’ve all been there. Whether your child is still in the toddler years or their teenagers now, every mom’s been through it.
And guess what?
Every mother before you has made it out alive. Toddlers can test your absolute limits. Pushing every button you didn’t know existed within you. The toddler phase in a child’s life is difficult.
Mainly for you momma. Fear not! All you need is a lot. And I do mean a lot of patience.
Patience is the ability to accept or tolerate delay and/or trouble without becoming angry or upset.
It can be extremely hard at times to remain patient with children. Especially if you are a stay-at-home parent. You never get the opportunity to leave the house and recharge. Eventually, something’s got to give, and that’s usually your patience.
To keep my sanity with my one-year-old, I’ve learned ways to cope with his everyday tantrums, silliness and new found independence.
Here’s how I learned patience early on with my toddler.
1. Stop Yelling
We all met that one mother in life who always seems to be yelling at her kids. No matter what they do, the first reaction she has is to yell. Trust me, some days I am that yelling mom. Horrible days happen where I’ve dealt with one too many tantrums and puking episodes similar to the scene from The Exorcist.
At this point, I’ve lost my patience with my son. I raise my voice to get my point across. But, nothing changes. He’s still throwing tantrums.
That’s because yelling isn’t a great communication tool. All I’ve managed to do is exhibit anger toward him. This can lead him to feel confused and hurt.
Overtime, a child may come to think that yelling is a normal part of everyday life. When I yell, I’m showing my son that it’s ok to react in anger at life’s little mishaps.
That’s not a way to live. Show your child the appropriate way to react to a troubled situation by not showing your anger and yelling. So what can you do besides yelling?
Speak in a calm voice. You don’t have to yell or scream at a child to get him or her to understand. Children are smart. They learn fast.
To get your point across, try lowering yourself to their level. Look your child in the eyes and explain why the behavior is not ok. Always maintain a controlled, calm voice.
When your voice is controlled and calm, your child will be calm.
2. Think About What Your Child Did Right Today
Let’s say your child just took his entire paint set and painted his next masterpiece on the wall. While this isn’t acceptable behavior on your child’s part, think about what your child did great before this little incident.
Did he brush his teeth without throwing a fit?
Was his room clean because he picked up his toys without being asked?
Did he take a great nap?
You see where I’m getting with this? Think of ways you can praise your child. I guarantee your children are not 100% bad all the time.
They have to sleep at some point, right? Just kidding.
Children are fast, smart learners who are just trying to find their place in the world.
Instead of reacting in anger about your child painting on the walls. Take a moment to calmly assert to your child that painting on walls is never ok. Then, praise your child. Tell him or her something they did great today!
While they may have caused you a headache from the extra hours of cleaning time, you can always find something positive to say about your child.
Not only will praise help to encourage positive behavior, thinking of the positives will help you focus on something other than your momentary anger.
3. Be Honest
Although my son is only 13 months old, he understands when mommy’s getting a little irritated. The life of a stay-at-home mom is rough. You don’t get any breaks.
You don’t have the luxury of leaving the house, jumping in the car (without kids) and going to the spa to unwind. I consider myself lucky if my child takes a long nap. Those are usually the only breaks I get in mommyhood.
During an especially stressful day with my son, I reached my breaking point.
You know the point where you’re on the verge of screaming at the top of your lungs or breaking down and ugly crying? I think everyone mom has been there at least once. At least I hope I’m not the only one.
At this breaking point, I get my son’s attention, look into his eyes and firmly tell him, “Mommy is losing her patience.” Or sometimes I say, “You are ticking mommy off.”
I know, it sounds mean. That’s because it is, but I believe in being honest with my son.
Once I’m honest with him three things happen.
First… expressing my feelings to him makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
Second… my son understands that things are not going well between us.
Third… when I tell him I’m losing my patience, he gives me a hug.
Now, not every child will do this.
But mothers and their children have unspoken bonds. His loving hug is his way of apologizing. He can visually see I’m upset. His hug is a peace offering between us.
For me, it signifies everything will be alright because we still love each other more than anything.
Being honest with your children gives them a warning before you start to scream or crawl in a ball and cry (depending on the day).
Honesty let’s your children see the real you. No mom is perfect.
Every mother has a breaking point.
Related Articles: What To Do When You Feel You Might “Lose It” On Your Kids
4. Put Yourself In Your Child’s Shoes
As adults, we tend to lose that childhood innocence. Our lives are filled with responsibilities. We look at things in an adult frame of mind. We only understand and see each situation through adult eyes. Children see the world very differently.
The next time your toddler is throwing a tantrum, put yourself in your child’s shoes.
What’s causing the tantrum?
How would you feel to be a tiny human in the exact same situation?
Recently, my family attended a choir concert. It started at 7pm, which is normally bedtime for my son. My son and I didn’t even make it through one song. As he’s crying hysterically in the lobby, I’m going over in my head the reasons he’s upset. Essentially, I’m putting myself in his shoes.
My son’s up past his bedtime attending a concert with a lot of strangers. On top of stranger anxiety, he can’t play, walk around or run when he wants to. He needed his independence to move around freely. In this type of social setting it was impossible.
Looking through his eyes in this particular situation with my son helped me to keep my patience in line. Dealing with the social pressure of having your toddler behave in a public place is hard for any mom.
When instances like this happen, it’s important to think about how your child feels, not just your adult feelings.
Examining situations through your child’s eyes can help you avoid troublesome situations in the near future with a toddler.
5. Teach Patience
Children often don’t have patience. When a toddler is hungry, they are hungry now.
There is no waiting.
Either you learn as a mom to get on a set schedule and meal prep or run the risk of a full out tantrum. Patience is not innate. Children have to learn patience. Often times, they learn by example from those closest to them.
When a child learns the idea of patience and how not to react in anger, you as a mother can gain more patience.
Everyday situations can teach your toddler that patience is a virtue.
Don’t always let your child have immediate gratification. When your child asks for something, express to them that they have to wait. Not everything can be given to them immediately.
Turn reading time into a lesson on patience. Reading longer books causes a toddler to read and turn pages till the end of the story. Overtime with age, increase the length of story time.
Teach your child to share. By sharing a beloved toy with a brother or sister, your child is learning patience through sharing. A toddler has to be patient in order to share. To further teach the idea of patience, a child can take turns.
Try time sharing. For example, set a timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off your toddler has to share the toy with a brother or sister. 15 minutes is a long time for a toddler to wait to have a toy back, which slowly teaches them the concept of patience.
Patience with toddlers can be difficult. Everyday is different. Some days are just worse than others. On the really bad days where your toddler drives you to the absolute limit, remember to not react in anger.
Anger only makes the situation worse. While it’s sometimes hard not to yell to get our point across, you don’t want yelling to be an acceptable form of communication. Keeping a calm voice reduces the tension between you and your toddler.
Being able to find calm within the storm is what parenthood is all about.
Find the positive things your son or daughter did for the day (before the chaos). Chances are your toddler’s done a million little great things today that went unnoticed. Praise your child’s greatness.
When all else fails, be honest. Give your child a warning that mommy is not doing well and is about to lose her mind.
Honesty goes a long way with children. It makes your child see you as a real person with real flaws, like a lack of patience.
But, don’t worry your child lacks patience just as much as you do at times. That’s why it’s important to see the world from your toddler’s point of view. Seeing a different perspective leads to a better outcome of a bad situation.
Remember, you dictate your emotions. Not your toddler. If your toddler’s trying your patience, you set the tone for how the day will go.
Instead of reacting in anger, focus on teaching your child patience through every day events. The more patience you show toward your child, the more patience your child will learn.