When my daughter was born, the first year went smoothly in terms of parenting. I mean, exhaustion aside, things were pretty easy: I just had to put her in a safe corner with toys and she enjoyed herself.
It was great, for both of us.
That was, until she turned one. Then, she began to look for more stuff to examine. This interesting, beckoning stuff was either not safe for her, or the kind that I did not want her to be touching because of the mess that she would be creating: my beautifully decorated Christmas tree, the drawers and cupboards in the bedrooms and kitchen or even sliding under the couches, where it was pretty much impossible to find her.
So, around the same time that she learned how to explore the world, my daughter learned a concept that had been unfamiliar to her: being forbidden from doing certain things.
Until then, everything was offered to her on a golden platter. Now, for the first time in her life, she discovered barriers that prevented her from doing what she wanted.
The age of innocence had ended.
However, it wasn’t until she turned 18 months that she learned how to fight back and ask for what she wanted. Of course, having so few words to express herself, and not being familiar with the concepts of space and time, her demands turned into tantrums.
The famous Terrible Twos had started.
- How I dealt with my daughter’s jealousy
- You are the voice in your child’s mind
- The curse of the narcissistic parent
- What is REALLY happening in your toddler’s mind?
And so came along my nightmares, with the endless fights over demands in which I had absolutely no clue what she was asking for.
Luckily, every misery has an ending, and so did mine!
By the time her third birthday was approaching, I noticed a calmer approach in which she was able to cooperate.
It was possible to explain to her that we were not going to swim right now, because it was late at night and we needed to wait until morning.
It was also possible to ask her to pick only one toy or candy at the store.
She understood that if she did not put back her toys, she wouldn’t get the reward that she was asking for.
Suddenly, the world became a much better place to live in.
However, with this started a brand new era, the one where negotiations took place – one where she planned for what she wanted, knew exactly how to ask for what she wanted, and where she was pretty aware of the consequences that could happen.
This was a much more pleasant phase for me, as I was not dealing with an emotional state of mind anymore, but rather with a more rational person.
Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you would know that by the time my daughter turned three my second baby was born. And as all parents are aware, a new baby means…jealousy.
(You can find my story of how I dealt with her sibling’s jealousy in this post. I suggest that you read it, as it contains an insightful account of how I approached this sensitive time in our family’s dynamic).
With two kids, my patience had become slimmer. Although my daughter had become more mature in her demands, the arrival of a new baby pushed her back into a state of regression.
So, when the baby cried, she cried.
When the baby wanted to be fed, she wanted to be fed too.
If I bathed the baby, her dad had to bathe her at the same time.
Some days I left the house with two crying kids, and their operetta kept going until the baby slept in the car.
The problem was that, throughout those desperate demands of my daughter, I was showing my anger, clearly stating that I disapproved of what she was doing.
I thought that showing my dislike for this whining was going to teach her that it was not the right thing to do, in the hope that she would eventually stop.
But it was never stopping!
In my despair, I attended the (free) webinar conducted by Amy McCreedy that uncovered mistakes that I was making.
Little did I know that by showing my disapproval of my daughter’s whining, I was not leading her in the right direction, but I was rather nurturing the behavior: I was telling her that she could get my attention by behaving like a baby.
At a time when I was starting to consider punishment as a way of putting an end to my daughter’s whining, I discovered that this approach was the opposite of what my daughter needed.
Because kids want us to talk to them.
They also want to feel important and appreciated.
Now, I have to say that as a mother of two, making sure that each child receives the exact amount of necessary daily appreciation is not an easy job.
Some days are too challenging for me to keep my sanity.
Fortunately, this free workshop shed light on how to understand why kids behave the way they do, and what I could do to deal with their whining.
Even better, in a world of mommy wars where every mom believes she has the key to perfect parenting, I now have the confidence to listen to my own instinct and decide what works best for my kids, my family.
In the end, I’m the one who lives with them, who knows them best and who has to deal with their different states of mind. So, the way I see it, the solutions should come from me.
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