We’re in the thick of it over here and I’ll be honest I’m mentally exhausted. I’m rolling my eyes and sighing like I’ve never rolled my eyes or sighed before.
Oscar has seemingly lost all control over his emotions. He does not know how to handle the smallest of frustrations and at his age I’m struggling to communicate with him well enough to help. We’re trying, oh we’re trying.
To be perfectly honest, I was completely unprepared for this stage. I thought we still had time to read up and get our head around the best way to gently parent a toddler. I feel really strongly about steering clear of any discipline methods that revolve around anger, isolation, or shaming. I want to be able to talk to him and I want him to be able to want to talk to me.
I’m not completely naive, I know it’s never going to be that simple and perfect. I know there will need to be a whole lot of patience in our home. I know there will probably be a lot of mockery from friends, family, strangers that will just say, “Just put him in his room and shut the door”, or “A smack on the bottom will sort him out”. But we’re the parents and we get to decide what happens, full stop. I actually don’t think there is any easy way out. Regardless of what parenting technique you choose, there will still be meltdowns and tantrums because it’s NORMAL. I’m learning from Oscar just how complex his world can be and all I want to do is help him through it.
I read something the other day and it has stuck with me. When I’m starting to get frustrated I repeat these words in my head.
When your child is having a meltdown, remember, it’s their crisis, not yours. Breathe deeply. Calm yourself. Then use a quiet voice and gentle hands to guide your little one through their crisis. That is living what you want them to learn.
My parenting toolbox feels pretty empty right now but I’m trying to do the best with what I know. We don’t just say, “No.”, we always offer an explanation as to why he can’t do something. I’ve been trying to talk my way through all my actions lately anyway, just to help him with his communication. There are also a few phrases that we seem to be saying a lot over the last week. One of them is, “Oscar, are you okay? Would you like a cuddle?”. This one always comes up when he does his major, drop to the floor, my world is ending tantrum. For the record, he hardly ever does want a cuddle but a few times he has. It’s difficult because he can’t talk enough yet to really be able to respond to me so that’s where the hug comes in. At the moment we are trying to teach him to say “Help me”. He really needs to learn this phrase! For our sake and his own. At the moment, when he can’t get down from his chair or his toy gets stuck, he does that painfully irritating whine/fake cry that makes me want to rip my ears off. Whenever he does it, we walk up to him and say “Oscar, you need to say ‘Help me, please, help me’ okay?” This morning it happened and he did the awful whingy cry but as I walked closer to him he stopped and started saying “Meep mee, meep mee” in a cute little voice which i think was him trying to say help me. All these things will happen slowly and I really think our patience will pay off.
I have loads more to say on this topic but I’m going to be late for work if I don’t stop here. I have a list of books that I want to read but until then we’ll keep chugging along as we have been for the last week. When I dropped Oscar’s off at daycare I saw 2 of his classmates performing the exact same meltdown routine that he does. I lightheartedly commented to the carer that I was glad it wasn’t just Oscar that did that. She laughed and said “Oh, don’t worry. Every single one of them do it, it’s just that age.” It really did put my mind at ease. It’s totally normal and I need to remember that.