Let’s face it – toddlers sure know how to push our buttons. My little one, probably much like yours, is like that classic subject of that nursery rhyme – There Was a Little Girl. You know, when she was good, she was very, very good – but when she bad she was horrid.
Yup, whether it’s developmental, teething, an impending illness or just pure boundary pushing, those horrid moments are unavoidable BUT there are some things you can do to lessen the pain. These are the ones I have found to be most effective with my little girl with a curl….
1. Get out of the house
You know the drill – they wake up from a nap, they are in a vile mood. You can see within 10 minutes that their mood is not going to brighten whatever you try within your four walls, and things are likely to go down hill very quickly. In these situations, bundling them off in their pram and getting them out into the big wide world where there are other things to focus on apart from you can do wonders!
2. Get into nature
Nature has an amazing, calming effect on our little ones. And let’s face it, once upon a time children were outside, experiencing the benefits of nature a hell of a lot more than now. Just think about how you feel when you take a walk in nature when you’re feeling stressed out. Much better right? Top tip: If you’re nearby a river, or similar, a little stint of feeding the ducks is bound to leave both of you feeling much better for it.
3. Go to the playground
All children love the playground, and I’ll bet that as soon as your little one cottons on to the fact that you’re en route to their favourite place, they’ll forget about that foul mood they were in. Get stuck in and have some fun with them, and watch those stresses disappear…
This one is particularly effective for a toddler that is driving you mad in a pram. There are two strategies here – sing so you can’t hear them, or sing to entertain them. Either works a treat and can be used depending on how p*ssed off you are feeling at that moment. Choose a song that goes on for a lonnnng time!
If the weather’s trashy and you’re stuck at home with a grumpy chops, get rid of your and their bad mood but flicking on some music and swinging them about a bit. Dancing is a well known stress reliever, so shake that booty baby!
6. Give them some love
This might sound counter-intuitive when the last thing you are feeling for your little caveman or woman right now is love, but it might be just the thing they need to help them press that re-set button. They might be feeling out of sorts or overwhelmed, so if you can swallow your urge to throttle them and give them a hug, you might be surprised at how that can change things…
7. Speak Toddler-ese
OK this takes a bit of practice but there is an amazing thing I read about in Dr Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Toddler on the Block called Toddler-ese which is a fantastically simple way of connecting and communicating with your little one on their level. You’re going to feel like a total numpty doing this at first, but trust me – this works. I can’t train you in it here and now (you’ll need the book for that) but here’s a quick example of how I would use it with my girl when she bugs me relentlessly about, for instance, going outside to play when it’s rubbish weather:
E: Outside! Outside! Outside!
Me: (Kneeling down, in a caring but animated voice) Outside! Outside! You want! Outside now!
E: (At this point looks at me like – Woah! You actually get me.)
Me: (In a softer voice) Play outside, play outside, I know E, but no…! No! No play outside now. (In a cheerful voice) No outside now, yucky yucky weather but hey! Let’s play catch inside instead!
I have used this umpteen times to head off a tantrum when the nag-athon commences and more often than not, it has worked, diffusing a potentially stressful situation. To find out more about the book and Toddler-ese check it out here
8. Have a glass of wine
The relaxing effects of wine are well noted, and a glass isn’t going to leave you too trolleyed to be responsible. If you’ve been under your little one’s kosh all day, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t open that bottle of wine a little earlier to help you get through the last couple of hours before bedtime. If it helps you get through doing the final bath and bedtime after a day of them being absolutely vile, then go do it.
9. Put them on the naughty step or in time out
You know when someone is being so hugely annoying you can’t stand to be around them – well the same goes for your toddler too. You don’t have to be the martyr and put up with constant suffering. Give yourself a minute or so break and put them in time out, or on the naughty step. It will give them a chance to realize how much they are stressing you out, that you mean business and give them the opportunity to fix their short circuit. Not everyone agrees with this tactic, so take it or leave it as you like.
10. Pass them over
If all else fails, hand over responsibility for a while. Whether that’s literally handing them over to your other half the minute they are home, or inviting someone around to help diffuse the situation – sometimes you just can’t go it alone and an ally is what is desperately needed…
What do you do when your toddler is stressing you out? Share any tips or tricks you have here…