Yesterday my almost three year old daughter waved me off at the playground. She was stood at the top of the slide hollaing “Bye Mummy!” as I loaded her baby brother and our cocker spaniel into my car.
It followed repeated attempts from me to get her to leave the play area as we were going home for dinner/Peppa Pig/whatever in the world she might want. These were met with replies of “No!” “I want to play mummy!” She seems cute to the fact that now I have my hands full with a baby, I’m no longer able to throw her over my shoulder like I used to…
So in the end I threatened to leave without her if she didn’t come on my count to ten.
Of course she called my bluff.
I eventually hid behind a boulder and watched her from afar. She actually ran to the other side of the park (as far away from the car as possible) to another play area before it dawned on her that I may actually have left without her. She came running over, tears in her eyes shouting for me and of course I felt dreadful as I scooped her up in my arms and told her that of course I would never leave her.
But seriously, how do we handle toddler tantrums? Or threenager attitude?
I’m not sure that my little park lesson taught my daughter anything – apart from the fact that I’d never, in fact, leave her.
When bribes, warnings and ‘positive encouragement’ don’t work…
On our recent holiday abroad Taylor quickly caught onto the fact that her parents don’t like it when she creates a scene in public – and they will offer pretty much anything to avert a public meltdown.
Dinner times in the hotel buffet restaurant became her favourite time of day to ‘play up’. We’ve always tried to be relaxed with her fierce desire for independence, but by the end of the holiday we realised that we had created a rod for our own backs.
As well as refusing to sit in a high chair (standard), she was refusing to sit still in any chair at all, she had to carry her own (not plastic) plate, not only choose her own food but actually be the one to put it on her plate, (attempt to) cut up her own food with a knife, drink out of a glass, pour her own water into the glass…the list goes on.
Any attempts to help out or refuse her were met with full-blown temper tantrums. As well as broken plates and copious spillages, having to hold a toddler and the plate she’s putting food onto (whilst trying to grab some food for ourselves) became a pretty tiresome task.
By the end of the holiday I felt like a complete mug. Our bribes weren’t working (even her beloved iPad was rejected), she was playing us off against each other, constantly calling our bluff, and suddenly she was the one calling all the shots.
I know that it’s all part of growing up and we should applaud her efforts. Her independence is what I love most about her. But seriously, trying to discipline toddler behaviour can be exhausting at times.
Time for more ground rules?
Now we’re back home things are a little easier, but I’ve come to realise that we’ve given her too much of her own way. It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t watched the news for months, since the likes of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol seem to have literally taken over our television…My living room seems to have become a canteen, since I can’t get Taylor to sit still long enough to eat a meal if it’s not in front of a screen. Ground rules indeed.
I don’t really have a conclusion to this post since I don’t have a solution and I’m not asking for one. I’m not sure it really exists. But I do think that the hubby and I will be discussing our non-negotiables from now on – especially when it comes to our next family holiday.
As for our next trip to the park, any ideas?
Do you have any tips for dealing with challenging toddler behaviour?