Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Terrible Twos are actually Incredible!

A few months ago (right before Christmas) Logan began entering in what most would define as "The Terrible Two's".  It just didn't seem right, he was always so patient and calm and all of a sudden he was off the walls, defiant, refusing to listen and over all a handful.  Then all of a sudden it hit me!  He didn't have the terrible twos he instead was finally able to actually COMMUNICATE what he wanted.  Previously he could somewhat express an opinion but overall he wasn't able to truly 'defy' me by doing what he wanted.  Now he had the mobility and motor skills, paired with the beginning stages of communication and he was off!
Once I realized it wasn't "Terrible" instead it was "incredible" my baby boy finally had a voice and a opinion, my world just opened up. He could communicate with me what he wanted and needed.  
It allowed me to change my perception of a temper tantrum, he's not just trying to be defiant he'd just rather do something else.  Once I was able to put it into that perspective my entire world changed.
We began talking about situations, how to handle them, how to adjust and how to work as a team.

The following is an example of how our parenting had to be adjusted and how we coped:

Logan has a few remote control cars that are meant for toddlers, they only have a few buttons and don't go extremely fast.  With those he's a pro and does a really good job, we also only play with those indoors.  My Husband has 2 high quality Remote Control Cars that have much more complex controls and go at a much higher speed.  

The Challenge: Logan desperately wanted to 'drive' the cars by himself, however we were outside playing with them in the street (the only place with enough room to actually use them) and they are expensive 'Dad Toys'. 

My previous mindset would see this as the terrible two's, He would scream and fight when he wanted the remote, when my husband would try to help him he would swat at his hand and then fight him whenever he touched the remote.  Whenever he couldn't have it he would even sit on the ground screaming.  
My new mindset means I have to slow down and figure out what everything means more than he's just upset.  He was trying to express his independence, the idea of "I can do it" by using it alone, whenever we insisted he needed help he would have a meltdown.  If I could dub his screaming fit with sub titles I would say "I really CAN do it, you just won't let me try!"

We of course want our child to be happy 100% of the time, but we are his parents, not his friends.  Sometimes we have to teach before we please.  So here's how we handled the situation:

The Solution: When Logan was screaming and having a fit we calmly went to him ONCE and explained that although he was frustrated he needed to find a more appropriate way to communicate it other than screaming and hitting.  Once we had explained it we completely when then ignored his outburst.  (on this event it truly lasted about 10 minutes)  The moment he calmed down, was quiet (however still very visibly sad) and was just sitting on the ground we both rushed in, asked him questions like "what's wrong", "why are you sad", "what would you like to do".  Once we acknowledged him when he was in a calm state and was behaving in a way we felt was appropriate it immediately changed into a conversation!  We talked about what he wanted to do, and explained why he couldn't.  (we have never 'dumbed' down our conversations to him, we explained issues like traffic, how fragile the cars were, and how complicated the controls were).
The next part I find is the hardest.  We attempted to work together, but this is parenting it's not an instant results kid of job, my husband tried to help Logan use the remote together and surprise surprise he had another meltdown, he didn't want my husbands help at all, and we were back to square one.  So we started the process all over again, the most important part STAY CALM & CONSISTENT!
EVENTUALLY, we had a final conversation, Logan was more understanding.  He had finally grasped the idea that he had two choices:

1.  Sit by himself being upset NOT playing with the cars
2. Work with Daddy PLAYING with the cars!

The beginning part of this entire process he was working for a third option of playing with it by himself, this is where consistency comes in, because we expressed that playing with it alone was never an option we couldn't ever give in, otherwise it just teaches him that it just takes time to get what he wants.  

The Results are SO worth the effort.  Logan got to play with the cars and Dad was able to ensure the proper treatment of the fragile toys. They got to work together as a team and eventually have a lot of fun.  

He is what I think is VERY important when it comes to how Logan responds to things.  After we were all done we had another short conversation about why we had to set those rules for these specific cars and most importantly PRAISED him for listening well and working well with Daddy.  To give a good comparison we then went inside and got some of his remote control cars and let him drive them alone and went over again why he could with these but not with Dad's.  He may not fully understand every detail but he understands the comparisons and understands the process.

THE hardest part and the most important part is this: STAY CALM while BEING CONSISTENT!  But it will so incredibly worth it once you start being able to truly communicate with you child!

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