Super Mum
Hi, thank you for sharing. It is indeed stressful and hurtful to hear our kids saying these things. My daughter said it even when she was 3yo. But it took me a while to realise that what they say is not actually what they mean. They can’t express themselves fully by saying things like, “I am upset because you took the soap away from me. I wanted to play with it a little longer.” So instead, if daddy takes it away, all that comes out is, “I don’t want daddy!” When I got hurt last time, I said, “okay, then I’ll go away.” To which my daughter replied, “I want you!” when she realised that I was going to ignore her. At this age, they are developing more complex emotions and are very often too overwhelmed by them. Coupled with the fact that they can’t express themselves completely well, this leads to numerous meltdowns. During the meltdowns, trying to reason with them logically won’t work. Trying to calm them down at that point will also prove difficult. So here are a few things I learnt... 1. Set safe boundaries and limits. Eg. If he wants to play with something, tell him that he can play for a specific duration, eg 5min. He must agree first before commencing the activity. Count down together with him during the play time and during the last minute, make it fun and memorable, so he learns to treasure the time given. My daughter started to understand the word “last” pretty early on. Then when the time is up, get him to hand over the toy/soap and tell him what the next exciting activity is (even if it’s mundane, make it sound great) so that he keeps his word and cooperates with you. 2. Pre-meltdown time out. You’ve already done this with the milk bottle, and it does work pretty well a lot of the time. They jump back and forth from wanting and not wanting something super quickly, so give them a bit of time to make up their minds, settle their emotions, and then start on the activity that was planned, like drinking milk. 3. Handling a meltdown. Telling a screaming toddler not to scream or to calm down just doesn’t work. They need to vent, so bring them to a safe space and let them vent first. As mentioned, they are overwhelmed and have no idea what to do other than cry/scream. After the initial venting comes the comforting. Not telling them to stop crying, but essentially saying, “Come, Mummy is here. You’re overwhelmed. Let me give you a hug. You’re safe with me.” The crying may settle a bit, but the kid’s still highstrung and can start crying any minute again. So move on to a distraction. Take the kid away from that situation and let him see/hear/touch something else. This helps him forget partially about what overwhelmed him and so calms him down almost completely. The last step, I started doing when my daughter was 2+. It was a post-meltdown review. After she had completely calmed down, I would sit her on my lap and hug her, then tell her that we were going to talk a bit about what happened. I would ask her if she was upset earlier. When she said yes, I would ask her specifically what made her feel that way. Then I would thank her for sharing with me and explain my reasons for doing what I did/my decisions. And we would have a very simple discussion on how she can tell me next time if she’s upset. This happened to work for my kid, may not work for all, but it really helped her later on, so I think it’s worth trying if you’re keen:) For my friend whose son also had a lot of outbursts, I gave her a set of emoji magnets to represent different emotions, so that he could choose the face that suited his mood and show it to his mum. That’s another way toddlers may be able to start trying to communicate their feelings without melting down. We’re all learning as parents. It’s such a difficult role to play. Haha. But every moment that you spend teaching your child and helping him develop good emotional coping mechanisms will pay off greatly:)
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