Happy Tiny Tuesday! I don’t know how it’s only Tuesday to be honest, because these weeks are seeming longer and longer with a threenager in the house. A wise mommy once told me that the stages you’ll go through with your littles are called the “terrible twos,” the “throw down threes,” and the “f-you fours,” and that mom could not have been more right. 😉 Twos were challenging for sure in that you feel like your child has split personalities, but threes are a whole new kind of terrible. Any other mommies going through this?
Emma Grace is technically 3 and a half, and majority of the time she is the sweetest little soul. My husband thinks she takes after me in that she is like a delicate little flower (he calls me this) – she’s very empathetic, sensitive to others emotions, and wants everyone to be happy or to “put a smile on their face” as EG says. But, when she has a tantrum it is truly mind blowing. Yes, there’s a lot going on neurologically in their little brains at this stage and they’re not able to process like we are, but still. (By the way, if you want a good book on brain development, I highly recommend reading The Whole-Brian Child.)
This brings me to the conversation I had with my pediatrician this week. First of all, a shameless plug, but I LOVE our pediatrician. He has to be the calmest person I know and gives the absolute best advice and never makes me feel crazy – if you want his name, email me! Anyway, I told him about some of the tantrums we’ve been having and asked his advice on what to do. He told me I needed to “1.) win all the fights, and 2.) have less.” Of course I laughed because that seems ridiculously unachievable, but I asked how and why anyway.
The winning part has to do with establishing authority. It was his reasoning for having less fights that really caught my attention. He told me that so often with our toddlers we are setting them up for failure. We are giving them so many commands per day that there is almost no way they will obey and fulfill each of them by days end. As soon as he said that I could have named 15 commands off the bat that we give EG (sit still when you eat, don’t talk with your mouthful, put your clothes in the dirty laundry, don’t hit your sister, don’t stand on your chair, etc.). Yikes. Obviously we need boundaries and rules in the home, but it was super eye-opening to me at how many commands I bark at my kids.
If I’m giving Emma Grace let’s say 40 commands a day, then there is a very high probability that she will break one of them which will lead to time out or taking something away, and ultimately lead to a fight. So his theory on that is to just ignore some of the behavior. My pediatrician advised that at this stage we only discipline those behaviors that are harmful to others or not acceptable in public (hitting, spitting, kicking, etc.). He then suggested that we reduce the amount of commands we’re giving and ignore behaviors such as spitting in time out, screaming in time out, etc. Simply overlooking some of the smaller offenses will lead to less fights and hopefully will ultimately lead to a smaller amount of “tough days.” Additionally, the absence of attention for some of those smaller behaviors will ultimately help those behaviors dissipate.
As I’ve had a bit of time to process through this, it got me thinking about how much time I devote to letting loose and breaking the rules with my girls. With all these rules and boundaries I’m establishing, am I making time to get dirty, to let loose, to just have fun with my kiddos? The answer is probably not enough. So today we tried to “break the rules” a little bit and this is what we did – we (the girls) put on our bathing suits and jumped on the bed. Then we pretended we were on a ship sailing for the island that had pink and purple dolphins. By doing this we broke 3 rules (wearing suits in the winter, jumping on the bed, and throwing our bed pillows on the floor), but it was fun and harmless. And the best part was that we were all interacting with each other positively and gave my girls a chance to be creative and be fun with mommy.
Every day is a new day with it’s new set of challenges, but I fully welcome each moment – the fun and the difficult! What are some of y’all’s parenting tips? I’d love to hear!!