It's been so long since my last blog post! It's actually been over a year and I have so much to update you guys on but firstly, Xaryah is 2 years old... turning 3 in a couple months. What?!!!
So it's only right that I restart my blog updating you guys on what's been going on in this new phase of my motherhood journey.
Ahhh the Terrible - I mean... Terrific Twos!
As Xary nears the grand 3 year mark, I find myself reminiscing on the "terrible twos" thing everyone keeps talking about.
Let me start by describing what "terrible twos" are for those unfamiliar. "Terrible twos" are what child psychologists call a normal stage in a child's development between the ages of 2 and 3 years where the toddler balances between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence. It can cause temper tantrums and frequent mood swings (mostly due to their inability to express themselves in a comprehensible manner), which can last up to the age of 4 years.
Now, it could be that we've lucked out in the kids section of this life thing or it could be that Xary actually understands her parents and knows that we don't stand for any drama at all - we live a very unproblematic life. Either way, I can safely say we've only had to deal with a handful of tantrums from our two year old - which although less than a lot of children, is still by far TOO many tantrums for me. Xary's tantrums include biting and lashing out when angry and of course, screaming at the top of her lungs - causing my parents and our neighbours to wonder if they should call the police for Roy and I.
These tantrums have caused a lot of self-reflection for me because boy oh boy did she get me on my nerves when she started with her antics. I've had to constantly remind myself "She's only 2 years old, Brinnelle, she doesn't know what she's doing" and try to find a way to get through to her amidst the chaos. If I really couldn't deal, I would call Roy to take over when she's 'tantrumming' but I swear sometimes I just want to just shake her till she stops the madness. Roy and I needed to find a consistent way to get through to Xaryah during a tantrum.
After trying a few different techniques, here are 4 ways that help us in connecting with Xaryah during a meltdown.
Be a safe space - Whilst undergoing their own frustration, the last thing a child needs is to see you - their role model - be chaotic and frustrated yourself (although you may feel that way). In the midst of the chaos, I've found that silence helps alot. When Xary realizes that she's the only one acting out, she tends to quiet down alot quicker than if she sees me doing something. Try to stay calm; use breathing exercises to avoid your own meltdown and you know what? Your child might even begin mimicking you to the point where they can practice breathing exercises on their own to calm themselves. Xary has done that a couple of times. Eventually, they will calm down enough to try to communicate to you what was wrong.
Protect yourself - Understand that things can get chaotic - trust me, I've been hit, bitten and had water splashed on me. The best thing you can do for yourself is duck, brace and do whatever you need to do to protect yourself. Use this time to also correct them when they lash out. Xary recites a little line that I made up reminding her that hitting/biting/etc. is not ok and then we proceed to learn better ways of taking out her frustration. If you don't teach your child less harmful ways to take out their frustration, your child will believe that lashing out is the right thing to do whenever they get frustrated and this can carry on way beyond their toddler years.
Whisper - This brings about a certain element of surprise since the last thing your child expects while they're being full out loud and dramatic, is for you to whisper to them... and encourage them to whisper back! It'll end up being like a little communication game between the two of you and before you know it, the tantrum has boiled down. It grabs their attention almost instantly and they learn that there's a better (softer) way to communicate how they're feeling.
Offer a hug - This is actually something Roy began doing. I would notice him offering Xary a hug when she's overwhelmed and having a tantrum... and most times she would accept it. He would hold her for a bit and wait for her to release before he does. Usually by the time she releases from the hug, she's in a much better headspace and can calmly try to articulate what was wrong.
Of course not every time these things work. Dealing with tantrums are never easy (for you or your child), so finding the best way to maneuver and connect with your child during this time may take some time, grace, a whole lot of patience... and on occasion, a glass of wine (lol!). Sometimes you will need to choose the appropriate technique for the situation... and sometimes you may just want to run for cover and let your partner deal with it while you catch your breath. Either way, do what's best for you and your child!
If you see any parent in public dealing with a tantrum, the last thing they need is someone watching them with judgement and disgust. The terrible twos - fours is not something that anyone can control, however, you can control the way you deal with this phase and all its quirks... and hopefully come out the other side unscathed or with minimal damage.