“Honey, please don’t scream in my face,” I said.
My 2-year-old reared his head back and threw up his arms in his best Tyrannosaurus Rex pose and screamed — louder this time — an inch from my nose.
It’s not the first time he has displayed some sort of new, unwanted behavior. In fact, we’ve been through pushing, biting, hitting, roaring and fibbing phases — sometimes simultaneously.
When I try to curb unwanted behavior, such as pushing, the shutters come down over those cute baby blues and a scowl that could slay a dragon appears. Once, as I calmly tried to say, “We don’t push our friends,” I barely had the last word out before that dreaded toddler response was screamed at me.
Ah, independence. Ya gotta love it.
“Honey,” I said gently, “You need to listen to Mama.”
I read somewhere that as brain growth in toddlers is exploding, so is emotional development. That means these little guys are not only learning colors, numbers, letters and the like, but they are experiencing new emotions, such as frustration, fear, anger and disappointment.
The only problem is that they don’t have the self-regulation to control these emotions yet, so their baser instincts usually get the best of them.
One child psychologist wrote that this is why “toddlers are the opposite of civilized human beings.”
That would explain the sudden temper tantrums over seemingly benign things. And why sometimes I’m convinced demon possession is at play.
But how do I make his toddler brain understand that these behaviors are wrong?
Here are some useful tips I found on Parenting.com:
• Pick your battles: If you’re always saying no, the child will tune out your priorities
• Know your child’s triggers and remove temptations for unwanted behavior
• Be consistent in your reactions to avoid confusing the child
• Don’t get emotional: If you get angry, that’s all the child will see versus your message
• Keep it short and simple: Speak in short phrases so the child will understand (i.e., “No hitting.”)
• Give a time out: After repeated reprimands, put the child in a time out space for one minute per age
— Sarah Leach is editor of The Holland Sentinel. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @SentinelLeach #babyboom.