It can go without saying that parenting a toddler requires a considerable amount of patience. I said goodbye to the days when a fussy baby meant only a few simple things and I said hello to a whole new lists of reasons why my toddler was expressing herself in the most vocal and dramatic way possible. The list now includes but not limited to,
- Not having breakfast done 3 seconds after it’s started
- Starting Frozen in the middle of Let It Go instead of the beginning
- Not giving her something she clearly stated she didn’t want
- Tossing her dinner after she said she was done
It’s obvious these small humans were put into our lives to question our sanity and to keep our heart full of love all at the same time.
All funny moments aside, there are times when my day has me feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted, I look at the clock and it’s only 10am. My toddler has this amazing ability to sense the kind of energy I put out and most of the time she feeds off of it. The difference between her and I is that I can work through those emotions. I know when it’s time to take a 5 minute time out from life to gather my thoughts. I can go back in having left those feelings behind and move forward. My toddler hasn’t gotten there yet. I know sometimes I get so caught up in what I am feeling and how overwhelmed the day has been that I forget that my toddler, who is probably in the middle of her 5th meltdown in the day, really is just trying to tell me she is feeling some sort of way and she needs me to help her figure out how to express it. She doesn’t process her emotions the same way I do. All she knows is that she feels the way she feels in that moment. No amount of bribery, reasoning, or ignoring is going to help her understand nor sort through her emotions.
As an adult it’s acceptable to be grumpy to my husband, to my siblings, or to my mother when I get into my “moods”. I certainty don’t give it a second thought when I say,” Today has been a long day.” as a way to let others know that I am done with it all. That is how I work through those emotions in those moments. I often forget that my child has those moments too. Her so called bad days shouldn’t be viewed as disobedience or a lack of parenting on my part but rather viewed as what it is, a child working through her emotions.
The best thing I can do as her mother is to give her my support and let her know that I understand. Punishing my child for having a tough time doesn’t teach her much. I never want her to feel like she needs to hide her emotions because she fears the consequences. I want her to continue to trust me. Every time I get down to her level and speak to her, I want her to know that together we will figure it out. I want to be able to provide her with the opportunity to learn how to express herself without having a meltdown every single time. Certain times those lessons take 2 minutes and other times is can be an all day thing.
I cannot let my moments of frustration hinder her emotional development. These moments in toddlerhood won’t last forever. As she gets older she will learn more and more about herself. I need to travel the journey beside her and let her know I am here.