Selfcare for relationships as the trauma of toddler tantrums takes its toll. What can parents do to embrace the toddler chronicles?
As parents we are often left feeling defeated and deflated after a screaming episode from our toddlers over the simplest things such as the shape of an apple. Madelein Hendricks from The Vent describes that her now four-year-old left her crippled with mom guilt and self-doubt, questioning her parenting skills, as she reflects and moves out of the toddler phase with her boy. The women of The VENT discuss their experiences with Toddler Chronicles in their latest podcast.
An exhausted mom of four, Angelique Wells explained that motherhood with a toddler of 2 is not for the faint hearted and that finding the balance is most often simply not an option. She can endure many of the obstacles that motherhood has to offer but the screaming, for her, is unbearable. Keri Morrison, also a member of The VENT gives some great advice and feedback about a technique that works well for her and it’s the age-old time out method.
Are boys and girls so different?
In 2012, The conversation.com shared that between the ages of two and three, the boys displayed a higher rate of behavioural problems than the girls. Boys were around 10% more likely to show what we call “externalising behaviours” such as destructiveness and aggressiveness. Girls were, however, more likely to have emotional problems.
Are parents doing enough self-care to recover from the trauma that tantrums leave behind?
One thing that all parents have in common is the nauseating feeling that is left behind after our child has a tantrum. This forces us to ask the question – are we doing enough together as a parental unit to repair the damage that gets done in these relationships. Michelle Austin, member of The VENT explains, “I feel that partners should be as close to 100% on the same page as possible.” She finds that it’s necessary to do a blow-by-blow analysis after each tantrum episode to analyse how each parent or family member dealt with the episode. ”From there, we can build each other up as partners by complimenting and celebrating when something worked, but also discussing why a certain thing wasn’t as effective.” Michelle believes that future episodes can be dealt with more realistically to have minimum trauma impact on both the parents and the child.
The 8 tips The VENT shares with parents to survive the toddler years.
- Practicing Self-Control – “No one on this planet will ever dare speak to me this way is the immediate thoughts that cross my mind when I am screamed at from a dizzy height,” says Madelein Hendricks, but after some introspection, she has realised that self-control always plays a major role in calming down the situation.
- Apologising to my Partner – At times, the hardest part of the aftermath is being brave enough to apologise to my husband for what went down, but once we have spoken about this, we realise that we are not the only ones dealing with this. Madelein observes that finding some healthy humour has helped us address our behaviour and how we contribute to the situation, so that we can make changes that will serve ongoing positive parenting.
- Take a timeout during tantrums – Keri believes that giving both parent and child the time to calm down, is essential. “This allows the situation to be diffused and for calm to be restored.”
- Pick your battles – “Knowing when to give in, and what will not be tolerated is the masterclass that most parents fail,” adds Keri. As all relationships are a balance between give and take, motherhood can often seem off balance but once we pick our battles, we can fight harder for the things that are non-negotiable and breathe through the others.
- Debrief with your partner – It’s vital to be on the same page with your partner and communication is the only way to achieve this, debriefing after every tantrum can help parents become a stronger unit, Michelle reiterates.
- Mommy and Daddy timeout – Practice at least 30 minutes alone-time (without kids) a day so that you can keep sane, this can be something as simple as going to the shops alone. In an ideal world it would be fantastic to have 30 minutes with your partner alone everyday but as we don’t live within a fairy tale world, make the effort to take turns to play the roles of Mommy and Daddy and then yourself, doing you. This might give you only 3 minutes for yourself each day, but it is something to cherish.
- Fight the good fight – Angie adds that fighting with your toddler AND your partner is exhausting. “When we get fired up, we must remember that as a unit we can do so much more.”
- If you say no- stick to your guns. Don’t give in! As our little treasures are being moulded by all the good things, we are most importantly teaching them that boundaries are one of the essentials. When you say “no”, don’t give in, this will only show that you are flexible about the big things too.
Savour the good times
As exhausted and fairly traumatised we might be feeling as parents, we tend to miss out on the good things, by focusing on the negative and stressful moments. Society also puts pressure on us to be the best parents, there is little room for mistakes. It is important to remember that everyone is on their own parenting journey and the key really lies in the fact that no home or environment is the same. We should be kinder and more tolerant of one another – parenting is hard, there is so much guilt already, we’re all doing our best. Give yourself a high five for this and give the parent next to you one too. Our children are precious, enjoy each moment! If you are struggling with parenting and feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone.
You can reach out to The VENT on www.thevent.co.za for guidance.