I love my three year old more than life. But some days, I just want to sell her to a band of gypsies! There are some days where we literally have a meltdown every 3 minutes, and I lose it and then she loses it and then my 8 month loses it and then there’s a giant crying mess and lemmetellyou, it is not pleasant, people. Not. Pleasant. A lot of the time though, life with a threenager is an absolute delight; and what it usually boils down to is me. My three year old isn’t going to be any less “three," but I am a rational adult (usually) and the way I respond to her meltdowns has everything to do with how our days turn out. I find that things are best when I can follow these few tips: be positive, take a break, and choose my battles and let go.
To toddlers, it feels like all adults ever do is say “no." No jumping on the couch, no standing on chairs, no eating fruit snacks all day, no throwing toys, you get the picture. I’m sure this gets really. really. annoying for them (and you!). You are an adult and I’m sure even you would get tired of hearing “no” 50 bazillion times a day. When a toddler hears “no” enough times a day, of course they are going to lose it. So trying a different approach really helps me to connect properly and get them to behave properly without sounding negative. So rather than saying “No jumping on the couch!” I try, “Our couch is for sitting, not jumping. We want to keep our things nice by taking good care of them!”
Take a Break
When my toddler is completely breaking down and there is no calming her, I try not to put her on “time-out." I try to ask her if she needs a break. Sometimes she says (read: screams) no and then I just say “uhhhh I think you need a break!” And I take her to her room and tell her she can come out when she calms down or feels like talking in a calm voice again. Then I take a break, and a breath, and find my happy place, and then go and check on her. She is really good about calming down when she is having a break. I find that a “break” is more effective than a timed “time-out” because it feels less like a punishment, and she can take as long or as short of a break as she needs before she can come out and share her feelings more calmly.
Choose Your Battles and Let Go
Like I said earlier, everyone is tired of saying and hearing “NO!” So sometimes, just say yes. Let them wear the mismatched shoes. Let them splash in the tub. Let them pick up rocks from the parking lot landscaping and put them in their pockets (this one is my toddler’s favorite. Kids and their weird habits.) It’s not going to kill anyone and it’s just not worth fighting over. You’ll be happy you avoided a meltdown, and they’ll be happy that they are allowed to do something zany from time to time. Just let it go. You’ll feel better, promise.
What are some tips you have to avoid battles with your toddlers? Share them with us in the comments!