I’m going to do a bit of admitting in this post, and I might be judged for my past reactions, but…as a first-time parent, I am finding that dealing with a toddler can be so maddening and frustrating sometimes! You truly don’t get a grip on how egocentric toddlers are until you have one. I’ve always had issues with self-centered people and now I’ve found myself living with one. Small as she may be, she has been a mighty force lately, and there are some days where it really takes a toll on me!
As a young childless woman, I passed judgment on so many moms for how their toddlers behaved. I was living in this delusional world, where I would birth and raise a perfect little angel who would understand how to behave appropriately. What world was I living in???
Fast forward a few years, and I’m fully experiencing the tantrums, unkind words, repeated use of the word “mine!,” and all of the other fine quirks that come with raising a toddler. My little girl sometimes reminds me of a teenager, and genuinely makes me fear those teenage years! I may need to invest in having a wine cellar built in my home, because if these toddler years are any indication of how raising a teenager will be, I see a lot of wine in my future.
You always hear about the terrible two’s, but a lot of moms I talk to tell me two’s are great, it’s the three’s I need to worry about. For us, it started around 19 months. Sophia started talking really early, and her vocabulary quickly expanded. She’s very strong-willed, independent and my goodness, is she stubborn. She is an Aries… and it looks like my next one might be as well. How did this Libra end up with two Aries girls???
Anyway, when she gets upset, she spits out some harsh phrases that I didn’t think would ever come out of a child under three. A few of her recent favorites, that just kill me (drive me nuts and break my heart all at once) are: “No, I don’t like you, mommy!!!”; “Go away, mommy!!!”; “No mommy, don’t touch Sophie!!!.” I try to explain to her, those are not kind words and that isn’t how we talk to mommy, but mostly, it’s like talking to a brick wall. At least until she calms down a bit, which these days can be up to 20 or 30 minutes. It’s crazy!
The worst part is, it can be so hard not to take personally. I would be lying to you all if I said my 22-month-old hasn’t made me cry with her words – several times. I would also be lying if I said I haven’t been tempted to shout back, “Well, I don’t like you right now, either!” (I haven’t- but I have really wanted to at times!!!)
Usually, I just have to bite my tongue and exit the room. She’s at that age where she will not be calmed until she is ready. Of course, when this happens in the car, I just have to bite my tongue, fight back tears and pray the tantrum ends quickly. I can’t even turn on music, to drown her out, because she gets even madder. She’ll begin screaming things like, “No, I don’t like music! Turn it off!!!”
Sophie has been going through a bit of a mean streak lately and it has been really tough on me. I was always Sophie’s go-to person for consoling. If she got upset, I could usually pick her up and calmly talk to her and within minutes she’d be loving on me and content. Now, when she is upset, she wants nothing to do with me and says really mean things to me. To make matters worse, lately, she has been such a daddy’s girl. I always prepared myself for this, as I knew it would be inevitable I just didn’t expect it so soon. I might go crazy if this goes on through her two’s and three’s. I feel like such and outcast right now!
The other day, my husband and Sophie were in the pantry and he knocked something off the shelf, which fell on her head. She started crying, and when I went to see if she was okay, she was so upset with me. “No, mommy. I don’t like mommy.” She only wanted daddy, and acted like I was the one that knocked the bin of granola on her. Ouch!
Another toddler phase that has me on the brink of a breakdown is the “mine” phase. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that this is a normal phase that toddlers go through, and that it will pass. Right now, the “mine” phase is really bad! I’ve seen Sophie full on melt down because our dogs walked in to the kitchen while she was eating her breakfast. Cue toddler screaming, “That’s my pancakes, Frank and Molly!!!” and cue crying/more yelling. Seriously? Not once have the dogs climbed up your high chair and stolen your food – ever. I promise, they won’t start today.
Yesterday, when I was walking Sophie into day care, she stopped to yell at another mom, “That’s Sophie’s, mommy!!!” and shot the other mom the dirtiest look! I just shook my head and said, “Sorry,” hoping she’d remember having gone through that phase with her child. I’ve even had to stop myself from playing into the “mine” fits. I’ve seriously found myself going into rants about how “It’s really not hers, that mommy and daddy work and we bought that toy, etc, etc.” Seriously, Meagan? What am I even trying to accomplish? It just fuels her even more and those are concepts she will not grasp very well.
Another thing she likes to yell at me from time to time is “That’s my daddy!!!” I’ve found myself telling her “Well, that’s my husband”, but that usually fuels her to scream “That’s my daddy, don’t touch my daddy!”
Most days, I am able to manage the frustrations and direct her to use more appropriate words, or calm her down when she is freaking out about everything being hers. I’ve found that confirming something is hers (when it really is) sometimes helps, and then following up by telling her sharing with our friends is really nice and even though it is our toy, we should practice sharing. Or, when she gets upset with me and tells me “That’s my daddy,” saying something like “Yes, that is your daddy, but mommy loves him too,” will help. However, I am finding that there are some days where having these rational responses can be challenging.
Did any of you go through something similar? Tell me about your experience. Did these phases last long? What seemed to help your family?