We’ve had a few good weeks here, threenager behavior wise. And I’ve taken some time to reflect on it. When things are rough, the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s a phase. It will pass and we will get through it.
During the rough times, my first instinct is to say that we’re doing it wrong. We need to change how we deal with behaviors. Our modified time outs aren’t working. Eff these damn rainbow berries. But it’s during these weeks of testing and tantrums that consistency is the most important. I’ve noticed that once we’re through to the other side, the calm side, my little guy has usually had a burst in language or a greater depth of awareness or communication. Their brains are still exploding with new skills and it’s overwhelming and they need us to be consistent. It’s not the time to change things.
But you know what’s even more effective than consistency? A hug.
Sometimes, it’s even harder to give when your toddler is screaming and flailing and saying they don’t like you anymore. It's not to replace a consequence. It doesn’t mean they’re going to get their way and have Bunny Gummies for breakfast. Or that they won’t have to clean up the 83037362 LEGO that they flung all over the living room.
But that hug will get you to the healthy breakfast or the clean up song. That hug will make them feel safe and secure. Your deep breaths will model the deep breaths that they will eventually start to take. That hug will reassure that everything is okay. They’re okay. You’re okay. They are still lovable and loved. And for me, it's a reminder of how young they are. Feeling Judah's tiny body is a tactile reminder that he is practically a baby and helps me to consider that when I am losing my cool.
Sometimes I offer the hug, always trying to get that consent. Other times, I just give it. And a lot of the times, I yell before I remember to hug. Or I threaten or I take away toys. Parenting a toddler is hard. And just like life and all these big feelings are new territory for our babes; parenting is new territory for us. We have to give ourselves grace. Some days, we’ll get it right. Some days, will be a mix. And other days, will just be a struggle. But every day is a new day for us to do better. And it’s okay.
And if we yell or threaten or just don’t like how we’ve acted: we can say so and apologize and hug them. Teaching our children a valuable lesson. Teaching them to give us a little grace, because they always do. They’re our biggest fans and that is such a huge honor.
So when your threenager is yelling at you because you cut their toast wrong. Hug him.
Refusing to put their left shoe on, making you late for the dentist. Hug her. You’re already going to be late, anyway.
Asks for carrot sticks for snack and then flips out because they hate carrots, even though they just asked for carrots. Hug him.
Won’t leave the playground and is running away from you. Catch that little bugger and hug him. Or make him catch you. And hug him all the way to the car.
At Target and your toddler won’t stop blabbing and screeching. And you can’t even think to remember why you’re there. Hug her. And marvel at all the random stuff you end up buying when you get home and call your husband to pick up all the stuff you forgot to get because of all that toddler blabbing.
Oh and for all the good stuff. The sweet things they say. The new knowledge they surprise you with. When they clean up their mess without being asked. Hug them for that too.
Those hugs go a long way.