We’ve been seriously challenged at the moment with our tantrum throwing toddler. We’ve hit the tantrum throwing twos a few months early.
Last week, I dropped my daughter off at school as I do every day. As we got out of the car, she gestured for me to pick her up with arms up in the air and a few feet stomps. My normal response is to pick her up and carry her to her classroom but my hands were full of blankets for their pyjama and blanket tent day at school. A tantrum promptly ensued. At first, she hugged my leg, screaming and dragging her feet along the ground as I tried to walk with her to her classroom. She then fell on the ground, screaming so loudly that her principal came out to check on us. I wanted to crawl into a hole.
My frustration levels were high!
Nevertheless, I’m determined to turn this season of ‘terrible twos’ into a season of ‘terrific twos‘. How do I do this? Well, I can’t change the way my toddler acts but I can choose to change the way in which I respond to her.
Growing up is tough. Our toddlers are experiencing a wave of new emotions that they neither understand nor can control. We are able to control our emotions because we have learnt how to do so. This is where the teaching aspect of Motherhood comes in. We should teach our toddlers how to manage, understand and control these emotions. How do I do this? By managing my own emotions and leading by example. I can’t expect my daughter to understand something that I haven’t taught her. I can’t expect her to learn how to manage her emotions if I can’t manage my own.
While the word ‘NO’ dominates her vocabulary at the moment, I need to understand that she’s also trying to figure life out. I don’t think this notion ever stops. We’re all trying to figure life out somewhere along the line. Her fragile little mind is racing with all these new experiences as she explores her little world.
So I’ve learnt that instead of responding to a tantrum with a response that will aggravate the situation and turn a 5-minute episode into a 30-minute fiasco leaving everyone in the house frustrated and irritated, I can learn to respond in a way that diffuses the situation and hopefully puts my toddlers’ emotions at ease. Sometimes it requires a hug, sometimes it requires undivided attention from mommy or daddy, singing a song works well, or maybe Barney will do the trick. The challenge is to reign in my frustration and choose to respond in love, compassion and kindness.
I have now just turned an uncontrollable situation into a situation that I can control and manage well. This is the exact lesson I want to teach my toddler. I want to teach her that when she feels like responding to a situation in a fit of rage, she should rather choose to respond in love, compassion and kindness. How can I expect this response from my children if I can’t practice this myself? I know that I’m not always going to get it right. But I’m sure going to try because the alternative looks messy and ugly.
This doesn’t mean that I can’t discipline my daughter. I wholeheartedly believe in discipline but I do believe in choosing your moments wisely in which you choose to discipline your child. Not every tantrum throwing episode requires a hiding or naughty corner, time out session. Some just require a huge amount of expressive love in the form of hugs and kisses, understanding and compassion.
The Bible challenges me to practice compassion in every situation.
- Compassion means “to suffer with” and is an emotional response of sympathy. But it’s not just a feeling. The feeling is combined with a desire to help. Because we have compassion, we want to take action and help the person who is suffering.
- Kindness is the quality of compassion and generosity, especially to those who are weak and in need.
- Humility is an attitude of lowliness and obedience. We recognise our status before God and that creates an attitude of humility.
- Gentleness is seen in the Bible when God deals with the frail and the weak. It is an expression of compassion, polite and restrained behaviour.
- Patience is the quality of forbearance and self-control that is often expressed as a willingness to wait.
I aspire to practice compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience with my children in all situations. And as I do this I’m hoping that they will learn from me. Situations like this build character and backbone. My children will learn how to respond in sticky situations and it will prepare them and teach them how to handle life’s challenges.
Mums, you are your children’s greatest example. Teach them the right examples. They will grow up to be what you teach them to be.