Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The big BIG emotions of a two year old... and the even bigger emotions of her mama

We have a two year old.

That sentence should be all I need to type for most to understand and empathize with what we've been struggling with over the past little while. The tantrums, the NOs, the refusal to get dressed/brush teeth/eat dinner/go to bed, pushing us away in anger, the whining - oh. my. gods. the whining and stubbornness to boot. 

It's the big emotions of a two year old - they're growing and developing at a rapid rate and they are responding authentically, albeit brain stabbingly painfully for us. I envy the truth to their actions and emotions. 

My emotions are just as big, maybe even bigger, as I learn how to deal with the anger that results from the shrieking-hairpulling-punching-kicking-and-screaming-in-the-middle-of-the-street-moments. I'm not proud. I yell at my kid sometimes. I wish I could tap in to some ujjayi breath and pause before I react more often than I do, but honestly ...
by the end of the day I want to be the one shrieking-hairpulling-punching-kicking-and-screaming

We have been taught, trained, to unlearn natural human responses as we've grown into adulthood. We're taught not to cry when we're sad, or not to yell when we're angry. The focus has been on happiness and bliss for so long we are forgetting what it's like to react to our authentic emotions. 

The only thing we seem to be encouraged to do is to laugh or smile when we're happy. A lot of people can't even cry when they're sad because they've been so conditioned. I once wrote about screaming into pillows - and underwater - and it's the greatest feeling because you can release the emotion that has boiled up inside you. 

Really, that's all our toddlers are doing... releasing and expressing their emotions. I want to try to let my girl work her emotions out for herself - for her to learn how to be a good listener and understand what is happening. I know, I know... it'll come with time. 

For now I'm trying to focus on the flip side. That with all of the above comes the wonderous development of a two year old. Seeing them struggle with a puzzle or a toy and its mechanics only to witness the "ah-ha" moment when it seems to click for them. Hearing them try to string sentences together in an attempt to communicate more fully... and hearing them repeat the same word over and over trying to get their point across through the power of inflection. 

Discovering colours, feeling how their bodies move when they dance and how their voice sounds when they sing. Learning to use the toilet and brush their own teeth... it's all fascinating to watch. 

That being said... I'm still looking for ways to stop and breathe before reacting. Have any tips?


  1. Great post! I struggle with this, too. One thing I find that helps is if I (genuinely) say "Mommy is pretty frustrated now, so I just need a little break." Often that will lead to a conversation, or at the very least, it allows me to express myself without an explosion. However, the times that I do explode are typically related to her safety (grabbing a knife, reaching for something up high, pushing back in her chair). And afterwards I'll apologize for yelling, but let her know that she needs to listen when Mommy or Daddy talk about things that aren't safe.

    And I'm just hoping that stuff sinks in over time. ;)

  2. I went to the Mulberry lecture last night and asked a LOT of questions about this, since Ryker is in a very defiant stage right now. A few tidbits: kids need 'exhales' followed by 'inhales' in a very rhythmic way during the day. An exhale being a crazy, let it out, playing outside kind of activity, and an inhale being a bring it in and focus kind of activity. We can't expect them to focus on something like getting dressed for instance, if they haven't had an 'exhale' first. So their tip was to observe when your kids need those moments. One thing that has been working for ME has actually been getting a bit firmer. I've been very relaxed and like relaxed parenting but I'm finding Ryker needs limits. I am now doing things like MOMMY is taking a time-out, and I say 'I'll come back when you're ready to get dressed" or "mommy needs a time out. I will come back in a few minutes when you're a little calmer." I also am VERY successfully counting to three but when I get to three there is no punishment, I simply do the thing I want him to do. Some that have worked in the past day or two "Ryker, I'm going to count to three. When I get to three I'm simply going to pick you up and take you upstairs." Another - "mommy is going to count to three. When I get to three I'm going to just come and put your shoes on." And one that TOTALLY surprised me while Ryker was tantruming but wanting to sit on my lap during dinner: "Ryker, I'm going to count to three. When I get to three I'm going to put you down unless you stop crying." I kid you not. That kid stopped crying instantly when I got to number 1. The key for me is not punishing at three, but simply giving him to the count of three to CHOOSE to do the task himself. It has cut down on tons of crying. In terms of getting dressed in the morning.. this can be a challenge over here too but Mulberry folks suggested inserting some humour into it and telling stories. The other day I decided fuck it, I'll start telling a random story. He was in the other room ignoring me but came in to hear this story and I just held his clothing out and he put it on. The story was literally "once there was a boy named Ryker who wouldn't put his clothes on.. etc etc."

  3. LOVE the stories idea!!! We ask P to make a decision when we count to three but lately even that's been hard to accomplish anything - wait for it... it's a comin' ;)