We’ve almost made it. We’re not quite there yet. And we still have one more to go.
Charlotte will be 3 in May.
We’ve now experienced the second year of life as parents twice.
All experienced parents know what I’m talking about. That second year is hard. But it’s also one of the most fun. I’ve never wanted to scream louder or laugh harder than during this precious year of growing pains.
Charlotte, like most two-year-olds, has gone from saying a few words and phrases to telling elaborate stories. Her imagination fascinates us, and her ability to manipulate her brothers (and her father) is brilliant! Girls are born with a completely different brain than boys. She’s got us all wrapped around her little finger with her beauty, intelligence, and just-plain-cuteness. But growing doesn’t come without a few pains.
During this year (or 18 months), kids have new impulses but don’t know how to control them yet. Thus, tantrums are normal in addition to saying “no” and “mine” often and refusing to cooperate. Patience is so important (and I run out quickly too fast).
As I watch my kids during these limit-pushing times, I have to remind myself God only lets us borrow them. They are his. This independence and desire to make their own decisions is how he made them. I’m just so overwhelmed that I get to help shape and nurture them - it’s intimidating.
A wise co-worker once told me the goal in handling these situations in parenting is to break the will, not the spirit. Help them learn and grow - even if it’s a battle at times.
A couple of emergency tips that help me through each day:
Allow Cy and Charlotte to make their own decisions based on choices whenever possible. This saves many tantrums and arguments. When they don’t have anything to say “no” to, it eliminates a fight and enables independence at the same time.
Earlier this week, I knew Charlotte would demand to wear her nice, pink sandles, but she was going to be playing outside and getting dirty, and I knew that would be a bad idea. Before she could even think to ask, I offered her a choice between two other pairs of shoes. On this morning, that worked.
Distractions! When Cy was two, and he’d throw the kind of tantrum that would last forever (and by forever, I mean like 30-45 minutes), I could tell he wanted a reason to stop crying. He would keep crying until I gave him a reason not to.
For instance, if he was pitching a fit because I took something away from him, his violent fit could go on for a long time. Then there would come a point (that I learned to recognize) that I knew he wasn’t crying over the object anymore. Our inclination is to offer another toy or object that is safe to play with, but that doesn’t work most of the time; it needs to be a completely different experience. Try snack time or a tv show or going to play outside. This works much better.
This season is short. Pediatricians say it ends by about the third birthday, but in my experience three-years-old is just a bit better - still quite a bit of testing the boundaries. But when Cy hit four, it was like magic! Something clicked.
Enjoy the good but be prepared for the bad!