If I thought parenting two under two was exhausting as it could be, I was so underestimating parenting two toddlers. Stephen totally skipped over the terrible twos, but the terrible threes have definitely come with a vengeance. And as if to prove to me that Stephen’s angelic behaviour as a two year old had everything to do with nature and not nature, Irini is getting a head start on the terrible twos at just 21 months!
Anyway, I could just sit there and whine like a toddler about it (is there anything more annoying about a toddler’s whine?) or I could take action. So, we have implemented a few plans. The first is following the 1 2 3 Magic program with Stephen which has taken care of a lot of issues. The timeout system that they use is really working well for him. He is such a sensitive child that usually the 2 warnings about being removed from our presence is enough to stop in its tracks whatever behaviour we want him to stop.
The second is to set up a daily and weekly routine for him. I discussed this a little while ago, and this is really helping prevent a lot of meltdowns. Stephen is very much into order and routine for his day, and doesn’t like to deviate from it. When we can prepare him in advance for the different things that come up, he is less likely to throw a tantrum about leaving the house or packing away his toys. As my parents and my house can attest, packing away his toys is still a work in progress.
Lastly, when he throws a tantrum (which used to be rare, but is now much more common) he has to go to his room until he calms down and then I talk to him about how he was feeling. His tantrums are not usually because he is not allowed to do something, but are a reaction to his frustration that something did not go the way he wanted. For example, yesterday, we had a ripper that lasted for nearly twenty minutes because his blocks fell down and it was “not perfect no more”. When ha had calmed down and I could finally talk to him, I started probing how he was feeling. After a few minutes, we came to the conclusion that he was “angy” (angry) because he wanted his blocks to look a certain way. There is something very cute about a little tear stained face telling you he is angry!
For Irini, we are a bit stumped. Her behaviour has become really out of control, mostly involving beating up her brother to the point of drawing blood, pulling his hair so hard it lifts him off the ground, or just general mayhem and destruction. I am trying 1 2 3 Magic, but so far we have not had the success we are having with Stephen. I am really at a loss with her! I am hoping that if we stay consistent, as she gets a bit older she will start improving.
I also found a wonderful blog the other day, The Natural Mommy. Beth has put together a series called Tips to A Better Toddler which starts here. These are really great ideas that I have started using and they are all great. Make sure you check out the rest of her site; her craft ideas are amazing as well!