Just before two years old there is this unexplainable disruption in your perfectly behaved child’s perfect behaviour…. Well at least the disruption has happened in our household.
My little girl is now throwing her first tantrums, full blown, body slamming, ear splitting screaming, big fat tears filled tantrums. I forgot about this. She was our easy baby. She has spent her life mesmerised by her older brother, she is happy, she is joyful and she is just a truly, beautiful child (not that her brother wasn’t, she has just been an absolute breeze).
I forgot that this would happen, or even that this does happen.
I forgot about the terrible twos.
Leo was hit hard by the “twos” and I got used to the screaming, kicking, protesting and body strength stronger than my own pretty quickly.
Because I wasn’t ready I found myself getting frustrated, angry even, (why are you like this child?), I didn’t take the time to deal with her, I didn’t know what to do. I spent the first few days of meltdowns sending pestering ‘you don’t know what this is like’ text messages to my husband, I felt sorry for myself having such “difficult” children, and to be honest I ended all those days in tears, wishing I could be at work or somewhere where it would be easier.
Then after day three I changed perspective. I had had enough. And when I say enough, I do not mean enough of the tantrums, because from previous ‘terrible two’ experience I know they are staying with us for a while. I had had enough of feeling like a bad mum, of feeling guilty because I lost my temper or because I didn’t know how to look after my own children in that moment.
So I changed tactics.
My original tactic of ignoring the screaming, crying, fitting toddler was leaving both of us feeling absolutely terrible so I adopted what I call the Hug it Out method. I am proud of many things that I have learnt and adapted to in this parenting journey so far, but, I must say this has proved one of my greatest plans yet.
So obviously, hugging a screaming, crying, back arching child is near on impossible, so my plan worked like this. Let child cry it out, tell them you will cuddle them when they are ready, and then when they have calmed a touch, hug it out and hug them tight.
This works for us. This has been working for us for a week and a half, and in toddler years that pretty much makes me a seasoned pro, so let me tell you why I think this is the best way to deal with a diabolical meltdown.
1. It forces you to stop, slow down and relax.
2. Feeling you relax, relaxes the child… well it relaxes mine anyway.
3. (And most importantly) It reminds you how little they are. That they are still a baby, your baby, and sometimes all they need is their Mum or Dad holding them tight.
Yes, there are moments where this will not work, there are still moments where the tantrum has just gone too far and there is nothing you can do but wait. Those moments are still pretty tough, but my recent change in techniques have given me a new perspective and I am so glad.
I was in a miserable place, where my husband would leave for work and I would dread what she would lose it over first, I wasn’t enjoying my toddler and all the amazing things that are happening with her at this age. I had forgotten that she has only been here for twenty months, she is little, tiny, she may have a temper and gaining more of an attitude every day, but she is still my happy, joyful, beautiful baby and Hugging It Out cleared the fog and allowed me to see that again.
Side note – Now when she is mid tantrum instead of screaming ‘NO! NO! NO!’ she yells out ‘Cuddle Cuddle Cuddle’ so I can only assume she loves the closeness and calmness that is brings too.