I am not proud to admit this, but I have yelled at my toddler (he’ll be 3 in February) every morning this week. Every morning is a fight.
I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty relaxed parent. I don’t care if he doesn’t want to get dressed when I want him to – I’m rarely on such a tight schedule that something can’t wait 10 minutes. I don’t care if he wants to eat his breakfast standing at the counter. I don’t care if he wants milk and juice and coconut water with his breakfast. I don’t even care if he wants them in specific cups.
But there are things that I can’t handle. That make me snap.
I can’t handle when he pushes his 10 month old sister.
I can’t handle when he asks for things over and over and over again when I’m busy.
I can’t handle when he gets frustrated and throws things/cries/whines.
I can’t handle when he says he wants one thing and then screams at me when I get it for him because he actually wanted something different.
Now I know, big emotions and I should have empathy and compassion because he’s on the brink of being truly a big boy but can’t process things like a big boy does. I get it. But holy shit it’s hard.
So after I dropped him off at daycare I googled ‘how to stop yelling at my toddler’ and the beginning of the article went on to explain all of the ways I’m damaging my child by yelling at him. How I am potentially “hardening” him and am headed for inevitable difficult teenage years.
It’s not like I want to yell. I know it’s not good for anyone – especially him. I know it doesn’t help matters, if anything it makes things worse.
And without even reading the rest of the article I do know some things I need to do. For one, I need to take care of myself. I am so frazzled. I”m exhausted (I blame the baby on that one). And I have no patience. Throw a “spirited” toddler into the mix and yah, I’m going to snap.
So even though he was very emotional this morning, I dropped him off at daycare so that I can take care of myself (hello guilt). When I got home I put the baby down, took a shower, and then did a 15 minute meditation. I’m now having a coffee and writing this. Trying to figure out how I can be better.
So I’ve decided that in addition to taking care of my own mental health, I’m going to:
- Show empathy. Acknowledge (with my words to him) whatever emotion he is feeling. Let him know that it’s OK and that I am here.
- Walk away. When I feel myself getting angry or frustrated stop what I’m doing. Leave the room for a moment or put on some music.
- Recite a mantra. I don’t know what this will be yet. Maybe “he’s having a hard time” or “he needs you” or “I am the adult”. Something to remind me that it is my responsibility to teach him and I don’t want to teach him to yell and go off the handle.
I’m going to try this for a week and see if I notice any difference in how much I yell and in his behaviour. I’ll let you know how it goes.