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taming the toddlers

Mug of Keurig coffee, both girls in bed for naps, cats curled up on the couch, quiet is in the room. I turn on some internet radio with some Christian music and am ready to blog, feeling extra spiritual at this point to study my Bible and write. Wait. Was that a door? I hear a creak, then a “Mommy…” Not to be discouraged, I put that one back in bed and sit down to blog, ready to take it on again. Wait. From the other room I hear a cry. I wait, hoping for a false alarm and she will put herself back to sleep. Then I remember she has a stuffed up nose and can’t breathe well, so she continues to cry and all of a sudden, my feelings of calm and spirituality are gone and I sit with a frown, coming to gripse with the fact that my mommy alone time with my coffee has quickly come to an end before it ever began.

There it was all over the floor – milk – I had my back turned from the grocery cart for a second, simply looking for whole wheat tortillas. I thought the toddler tantrum was over. Then I heard a sickening thud, turned around and saw my little cherub was not over her tantrum, and had thrown the half-gallon of milk out of the cart and onto the floor, much to the dismay of gawking onlookers pushing their own carts down the aisle. My own jaw dropped and I stood frozen wishing I could walk away from the cart and act as if I had nothing to do with this terribly embarrassing shenanigan.

Anybody with toddlers or preschoolers understand what I mean? Some days life is just crazy. Naps do not happen as expected. Crying becomes the theme song of the day. Gallons of milk get thrown out of the grocery cart and spill over the aisle floor – in front of gawking customers, of course. This is real life.

Although we can’t make every day a great day and our children will never be perfect, there are ways we can create an atmosphere of peace and put them in bed at the end of the day, sigh, slump onto the couch with a smile and some energy left, knowing you kept calm with your little sugarplums and major chaos was avoided.

Whisper – When tantrums arise, it seems nothing can calm or contain it. Many times whispering will pique their curiosity as to what you are saying and they will slow their crying or even stop crying in order to either hear your words or figure out why you are whispering. This also helps mom and dad stay calm too and may even cause some laughter in the process.

Be consistent – Rules at home should apply outside home too. Allowing certain behaviors to be accepted just because you are in public, then trying to disallow those same behaviors at home creates confusion and will result in frustration for you and your little one. If your little nugget is not allowed to stand up in the chair at home, then she should not be allowed to stand up in the seat at a restaurant. It may be inconvenient to deal with the behavior at the time but will be better in the long run. This also generates respect for you as mom or dad. There are many times we have had to have a chat in the restroom during dinner out while our food gets cold. Although iPhones with children’s shows on them work wonders at restaurants, there are times that call for taking care of tantrums.

Communicate – Let them know ahead of time what will happen next. Many kids don’t like to be surprised as to what is happening and don’t function well when they feel jerked from activity to activity. Simply let them know a little at a time; what they are doing now and what will happen after. For example, I find it keeps my oldest daughter, age two, calm when I let her know right now we are going to eat lunch, then take a nap, then after nap time we will go swimming. She often remembers after nap what we talked about doing and will ask if we are going swimming now. Letting your snookums know that they have five minutes left to play on the playground before going home, they are more likely to comply by understanding what is happening.

Set them up for success – Since they are little and exploring is how God designed them to learn, let’s make it fair for them. If you know you are going to the grocery store, be sure to take plenty of snacks. If you have to go to the doctor’s office and you know they like to squirm, bring a favorite book or toy to keep them occupied. We want to teach them good behavior and listening skills without being harsh. Creating ways for them to win and helping them to avoid trouble is a loving way to teach.

Boundaries – Set clearly outlined age-appropriate consequences. Children can thrive when they know expectations. Everyone functions better when expectations are known. Verbalize what you mean so they know ahead of time and had fair warning before a consequence happens. Let your little cutie pie know that if they choose to hit sis on the head with the princess wand, the wand will be taken away and put in the closet. If it happens again, they knew the consequence and were warned, therefore, there is a consequence. Let them know that if they choose not to obey, they will sit in time out. Have a designated spot created for time out at home and even set a time with an alarm to stay accurate on time and let them know when they can get up. Appropriate time out is one minute per year of age of the child. A two year old can sit for two minutes, a three year old for three minutes, and so on. Don’t be afraid of their tantrums as a result of your providing a consequence. It is loving and brave of parents to care enough to teach them that everything in life has consequences, even when it may be inconvenient for us as parents as we don’t want to hear more crying. It is tempting to avoid a consequence to avoid crying. Don’t give in! Staying strong now will help avoid problems later on!

Schedule – Maintaining a consistent daily schedule by completing the same tasks or activities at the same time each day, children feel secure and reduces the risk of stress for them and you. If you work outside the home and must leave at a certain time, create a routine for you and your children. Maybe that includes breakfast as a family at a certain time, a favorite cartoon before leaving. At the end of the day, calm can better prevail if they know that everyday bath time happens before supper, then after supper, a story, then into bed.

Remember that your booger-heads are also still children – a precious gift from God. We can exercise some grace with them just as we receive grace from the Lord, too. Even when your little cherub comes walking out of her room during nap time with her diaper off for some reason, saying, “Mommy…” True story.

Have a fantastic day, friends!



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