Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toddler Tips… Wisdom from other toddler mamas

D: Since the idea of parenting is not something I’ve ever thought to myself, “I’ve got this all under control and I know exactly what I’m doing,” I’ve sought the wisdom of other parents to gain new perspective since before the kids were born.

Recently, I posted a question on a few parenting forums about trying to make sense of my toddler’s behavior. Specifically, the throwing, the screaming, and the self-destructive tantrums. I received some excellent advice and thought I’d post some of it here, for other parents to glean from.

These tips were derived from a list serve of women who all are moms to toddlers around the same age as the Deuce. Have any tips of your own that you'd like to share?

~ I have told tons of friends that having 2 yr. old twins is *almost* as hard as having newborns...it's crazy. I also believe that it's a phase...their brains are coming online still...they need to be challenge to find out if we will give them boundaries.

~ I reserve the time-out for major bad stuff right now...hitting our sister with the toy broom....whacking me, throwing stuff so it's not safe, etc. Basically when safety is involved.

~ I try to be consistent with my language...playdough stays on the table. If I see it on the floor, it's mine. Food is for eating. If I see it being thrown we are all done. The key with this is to then take away the toy, food, whatever as soon as they throw it, etc. This is the hardest part for me because it is exhausting and mentally numbing to do this 6 million times a day… but it's working.

~ The testing is normal...they are looking for boundaries and it's interesting b/c they truly WANT them...they are seeing if we mean business. I also stay totally neutral...calm body, calm voice, etc. so they know they aren't pushing my buttons.

~ Kids prefer consistency because they know what to expect. It builds trust in your word. My opinion is this isn't one of those things that magically corrects itself and suddenly you have 5 year olds who don't throw tantrums. You gotta do the work up front.

~ I usually ignore tantrums, as in I walk away. It’s hard to keep it up if your intended audience is not there. I don't tell my kids to "not cry", I just let it be known I'm not a participant for tantrums.

~ I have found that when kids are in the middle of all out tantrum mode then it's impossible to talk/reason with them until they are through the worst of it.

~ One of our guiding principles is to draw a firm line between his feelings and his behavior. It's fine for him to feel frustrated, but it's not fine for him to express that frustration in certain ways. Hitting or any kind of physical violence is an immediate time out.

~ One thing I'll add, which helped my daughter--giving her reasonable choices throughout the day. I found she was looking for boundaries at that age, but also some measure of control. So I could ask, if she wanted crackers, "do you want some in the blue bowl or the red bowl?"

~ Also love the choices ... and give 2 choices that you can live with. So instead of, “what would you like to drink,” ask “would you like milk or water?” Instead of “Lets leave the park in 5 minutes,” it’s “would you like to leave the park now or in 5 minutes?”

~A popular one right now is "We need to do ___ right now. Do you want to do it or do you want mommy/daddy to do it?" He generally jumps at the chance to do something himself.

~ From what I've gathered, toddlers emotions can be incredibly unstable – one minute they're happy as clams and the next the world is crashing down around them. This is just a fact of life in the way toddler brains, and emotions, work. To some degree, we can try as parents to mitigate the ups and downs especially if we know what might trigger them and try to avoid that situation, but it's not always practical (or possible) to stave off every emotional switch.

~ The other thing that's going on with toddler brains is the need for some control in their lives. They are told at nearly every turn what to do, not to do, and how to do it. Can you imagine how incredibly frustrating that must be to a little person?? Obviously, when it comes to safety, or violence, we need to protect them and ourselves. But I think it's important to realize that in other situations it might be ok to give them a little bit of control over their lives in order to mitigate the frustration they feel about, literally, being ordered around all the time.

~ I think it's really easy to overestimate what our toddlers are capable of, just as it's easy at times to underestimate their capabilities. Finding a balance that works for everyone is really hard, but constantly expecting them to act like 3 ft tall adults just makes everyone involved want to pull their hair out and scream.

Posted by Walker Lockhart @ 9:40 PM

Read or Post a Comment

As a mom to twin 10 month old girls, you better believe I am copying and pasting these little pearls right now.

Posted by Anonymous Amy @ Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:46:00 AM #

I stumbled upon your blog while looking for other parents of twins. What an excellent post for me to find! My girls are only 5 months old right now so we have some time before we have to implement these things but it's nice to get advice from someone who has twins. Thanks for the great post!

Posted by Blogger Lauren @ Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:14:00 PM #

This is great, Dana! It's always great to hear different bits of advice from other parents who are in the same age/stage.

Our method of discipline has evolved in the last few months. We were very much on the Positive Discipline end of the spectrum...lots of diversions, redirecting, "do's" instead of "dont's", not saying "no" (unless a serious offense), etc. But around the time of the boys' 2nd birthday, they moved into the 2's room at their daycare (where they are 8 hours/day). We were told that this classroom uses time-outs as a way to "cool off" when they need to be removed from a situation, etc. Not necessarily as a discipline technique, but if they are out of control and just need to simmer down.

We knew this was working because one evening Finn was pushing and screaming and acting like a caged animal. Reid said, "Finn go to time out?" and Finn went and sat on the stairs in the entryway without even being asked to by us! Not only was it a little odd, but it was pretty funny. Nonetheless, it worked! And afterward Finn was calm.

Now we use 2-minute time outs if they need to remove themselves from the situation and cool off...also for severe offenses such as hitting, pushing, not listening, and household destruction. :) When we put them in a time-out we don't raise our voice, but try to remain calm. At this age, our boys really enjoy getting a 'rise' out of us and we've found that not raising our voice helps.

At our 2-year WBV we asked about the book 3-2-1 Magic and our ped said that it is the ONLY book that she 100% recommends to parents. She is younger, but has 3 kids of her own and has used the technique on all of them. We bought the book and both Brook and I have read it, but the implementation has yet to begin.

It was very easy to re-direct and offer different options, etc. when the boys were younger, but our version of Positive Discipline just wasn't working anymore.

I think it's important for kids who attend daycare/preschool to be on the (relatively) same page as the parents--for consistancy sake. And with that being said, we've had to really adapt and change from how we hoped we would discipline...but it's working, so I guess that is a good thing!

To answer your question, "listening ears" is something we learned from our school as well. If we have to tell them something "important" we make a big deal about taking their "listening ears" out of their pockets, putting them on and paying attention to what we have to say. They usually cup their hands to the backs of their ears...it's pretty cute. Then again, they also do this if they hear a airplane in the distance. But it seems to work!

Another thing that works for us that we learned from our Saturday parent/kid gymnastics class is to FREEZE! If they are doing something inappropriate or running off, we'll say "FREEZE!". I usually end up doing this while I am trying to catch them to brush their teeth---crazy, but it works.

At the moment both Brook and I are really trying to cool our jets and remain calm when the boys are out of control. Surprisingly, it doesn't happen to often anymore, as they are really pretty well behaved...but, on other occassions (such as at dinner last night), it is total mayhem. And, of course, the more we react, the more they react. Coming home from work/daycare at the end of the evening is certainly the most challenging part of our day (for both the kids and the adults!).

Also, encouraging good behavior is something we are trying to do much more often as well. And when we do see one of the boys doing something extra good, we'll "brag" about it to eachother when they are within earshot. I also try to tell the boys that I'm proud of them when they've had a good day.

Lately one of our daily battles has been about color preferences. Finn wants only yellow shirts on wednesdays and fridays, but will refuse anything remotely yellow-colored every other day. Reid will only wear white socks when the wind speed is above 5mph...I'm sure you get the idea! Getting dressed in the morning was a nightmare. So now they get two options (pants/shirts/coats/sippy cups/plate, etc.), and it's been working well.

Alright. This is the end of the world's longest blog comment!

Posted by Blogger The Adventures of Carrie, Brook, Finn and Reid @ Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:23:00 PM #


We bloggers at HDYDI, are wondering if either of you would be interested in doing a guest-post for us the week of April 13th. We are focusing on childcare arrangements, and would love to hear about your experiences with group day care and your au pair...if you are interested, would you email me? Thanks!


Posted by Blogger Krissy @ Wednesday, April 01, 2009 10:22:00 AM #
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