Enter the Terrible Twos...
A few months shy of Luca's second birthday and we are already experiencing the "terrible twos". Honestly, I was at my wits end recently, because July 4th weekend, my son unleashed the dragon on us. Full force! Up until that point, he had a few meltdowns here and there but nowhere near the magnitude of that long weekend. It was almost like dealing with a moody teenager with subpar communication skills. One minute he's happy, the next minute, we're dealing with a nuclear tantrum of epic proportions.
My son wakes up early. Usually between 6a - 6:30a. Thankfully, we can take him to the backyard so he can work off some of the energy he has. My husband lets him water our veggies, which he loves to do. Sometimes the water doesn't come out the way he wants it to and this warrants a screaming fit. It's almost like once he gets wound up, he has to commit and can't stop even if there is no reasonable explanation for him to be screaming at the top of his lungs in the moment.
These moments are quite painful. I have actually weighed the risks of jumping out of our moving vehicle while my husband drives and let him manage on his own while I make my way up the road in peace and quiet. In fact, after the long weekend when we dropped him off at daycare, I had to catch myself and prevent myself from laughing at his teacher and saying, "no backsies" as I headed out the door. After I finished clocking him in, I once again had to keep myself from snickering at the director and whispering "he's your problem now" on the way out.
I think I was more frustrated than anything because a. my son has always been extremely pleasant and sweet so this is quite a drastic change for us and b. It's hard to solve what's going on. I'm so solution oriented and figuring out what he needs and wants, is difficult to decipher in and of itself. Needless to say, it's challenging to find a solution to an unknown problem. Nonetheless, my husband and I have joined forces to get a better handle on this phase.
Here are a few notes:
- We notice he is more likely to turn up when he is tired. Duh! In an effort to head him off at the pass, we preemptively put him down for a nap or some quiet time before he starts getting Tazmanian Wild.
- We repeatedly ask him to 'use his words' and explain to us what he wants. We also have gotten really good at guessing so frustration is kept to a minimum on all fronts.
- We promise him a timeout if he doesn't stop screaming. This works sometimes.
- We walk away from him if he falls out on the floor (easier to do at home for obvious reasons). Giving him attention reinforces meltdowns. When he is ignored, he actually stops sometimes to look around and when he realizes no one cares, he manages to pull himself together.
- We take turns so one of us doesn't get completely depleted. We also like to tag team. Sometimes it's a just a battle of wills and I will not be defeated by a toddler who isn't even 2 yet! #NO
- We always make sure to kiss him up and tell him how much we love him when he has finally calmed down, but make sure to mention he cannot scream like that when he doesn’t get his way.
- Lastly, I scream back. A loud howl to match his howl. I did this last night when he didn’t want to get out of the tub. He started laughing and his mood changed. It’s not the best suggestion but honestly, at least I can get my frustration out too! (BTW, my husband does not do this one and gets super irritated when there are two of us screaming.)
May you march on soldier and show a toddler who’s the boss.