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Katy England Katy England
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Everyone says 'terrible 2s' except for moms who have 3-year-olds. It's an ill-kept secret that 3 can be worse and it has been. It's no cake walk for the kids either. Being 3, you're in a tricky spot, you're old enough to know how parts of the game are played, but you're missing crucial pieces to the puzzle. And worse, the people who know the game don't have a rulebook; heck, they don't even seem to know what they're doing half the time.

After all, explaining to your toddler that the American Academy of Pediatrics says screen time should be capped at two hours per day doesn't avert a tantrum. And the AAP also seems a little short on advice on what to do when you have three people yelling at you because 'Mighty Machines' is over and you're not letting them watch a third.

There came a point where I started to feel like a crazy person. The ugly kind, where I'd lose my cool and yell back. That's great if you want a spiral of guilt and anger, but I wouldn't recommend it. I'm supposed to be the adult. And I say this because I've been there, not because I think I'm better than anybody. So here's what I did. I stopped yelling.

It wasn't helping. It certainly didn't make my kiddos re-think their actions. None of them sat back and thought, 'Ah, yes, what a valid point Mom just made when she stomped her foot whilst yelling, Stop it!''

And if anything, it makes things worse. When kids are being naughty, it's because they want attention to see that their actions have an effect on you. When you yell, you're basically saying: 'Yes! Do that more! Clearly, I want you to do it more, because look at the reaction you're getting!!!'

When you don't yell, you feel better because you're winning. That's right, you may at first think that you're letting them get what they want. But that isn't right what you're doing is staying calm and rational and awesome. If they aren't being calm and rational and awesome, that is a decision they've made. And when my kids decide to not be awesome, they have to go and do it upstairs.

It's like time out without all the hassle of time out. If they want to be where the action is, where the arts and crafts are, where Mom is cooking dinner or trying to check her email, certain behaviors have to be in place, and not yelling is one of them. If they yell, whine or fuss, they can go upstairs until they chill. Most of the time I go up with them, read them a book or just chill until they chill. Sometimes I don't, or can't, because I have two other littles waiting to go outside, or come inside, or get down from snack, or get pushed in for snack. And they simmer down with or without me. And we try again. I tell them how calm and awesome they're being, and how if they decide to keep it up they can stay as long as they want.

Because it's their decision whether they want to stay outside or have to go inside. It's their decision if they want me to help them put their shoes on or not. And it has to do with yelling. If they are yelling, I don't help. I'll help the calmest one.

And that helps me. Guess how many times I've felt like an awful jerk for not yelling? Zero times. Do I get exhausted with the tantrums and the pointless fighting and wish it would just suddenly stop? Duh. But the spiral of anger to shame to feeling like a bad person is gone. And that's so good. Like Christmas good.

And I'm not perfect and neither are they. But if just one of us can stay calm, it really, really helps.

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