I had this post on my schedule for yesterday, but I’m learning to be flexible. Actually, the subject of today’s post was spurred by some of my own experiences with toddlers and tantrums. Needless to say, sometimes as mommy’s we need to sacrifice our own plans to deal wisely with the character development of our children.
I have a mostly excellent two-year old. Ever since he was a baby, he has been advanced. He learns quickly, responds well to training, and genuinely desires to make Christopher and I happy. In the evenings, when we say bedtime prayers, he asks God to help him not to be afraid of the dark and to learn to obey mommy and daddy.
That being said, he is still a child and, as we approach his three-year birthday, seems to be struggling more and more to submit his willfulness to our direction.
Toddlers and tantrums are often said to go hand-in-hand.
We are told all the time about “terrible twos” in relation to children, but that is a premise I am simply unwilling to accept. I am convinced that if there is such a thing as “terrible twos” it is a reflection on the parents and a lack of child-training.
When I say that though, it is not without grace. I know there will be times when, despite our best efforts, our children will reinforce the “toddlers and tantrums” mantra. We are learning this ourselves. As Justice grows older and shows a more willful attitude toward Christopher and I, we recognize holes in our training. Sometimes we more consistently talk about consistency in child training than actually apply it.
Making Child Training Adjustments
Recently though, we’ve taken a close look at our child training and made some necessary adjustments. We are working toward developing a respectful attitude in our children, rather than just blind allegiance to our direction. Even if Justice doesn’t like our direction, he still needs to obey with a cheerful spirit rather than having a mini (or sometimes massive) emotional breakdown over it.
When we face those “toddlers and tantrums” moments, it calls for an extra measure of grace. A deep breath and a quick prayer and a realization of our own weaknesses. I’ve been endeavoring to implement something that I read once – to lower my voice instead of raise it when correcting or training. Somehow my lower voice seems to bring a calmness to my child.
Once the initial breakdown has calmed, I verbally reach out to Justice. I talk to him and ask him questions. I reiterate his need to be respectful (both to Christopher and I). Sometimes there is discipline. Then I direct him to apologize. Not a simple “I’m sorry”, but an apology that spells out his wrong doing – “I’m sorry I was disrespectful, daddy”.
On those occasions when Justice is not really sorry (you know, when he “can’t because he’s sick” or “his nose is running” or “he’s really tired” or “I’m crying), I have him sit down. I tell him to think about whether or not he was respectful or kind. And I let him know that as soon as he feels sorry and tells us, he may get up. It’s usually only a few minutes before his apology is sincere and he’s back to his happy self.
It’s a long process.
When our children are young, training may be constant but the individual offenses are usually really quick. As they get older the offenses take more than a quick “no”. (And I know I’m just getting started with this). It takes more patience, more talking, more grace.
I’ve realized anew how little I really know about this thing called parenting. And I’ve found myself calling out to God on a more regular basis (like every few minutes!) for grace and especially wisdom. We only have one chance to raise our children. He is the only One who knows the proper way to raise each one.
But the greatest part of all of this is the encouragement that comes when we see the long days of seemingly incessant training paying off. The moments when you know that your child has won a victory. When they obey with a smile instead of having one of those mini (or massive) emotional breakdowns. Those are the times that reinvigorate me to consistency. That remind me to keep on keeping on and watch as good character is developed in these amazingly precious children of ours.
What are your thoughts on toddlers and tantrums? Is it something we should just expect from our little ones or does that lend itself to more hardships later on? I’d love to hear your feedback so please leave me a comment!!