Two Coping Strategies

I have the smartest, most beautiful two-year-old ever to have graced the planet. Unfortunately, even the smartest, most beautiful two-year-old is still, well, a two-year-old. She can go from brilliant to monosyllabic obstinate in less time than it takes for me to compliment her on being such a good, big girl.

When she spends over an hour crying, screaming, and refusing to let herself be consoled, well, my level of parenting often takes a similar downward trend. After I found myself yelling, “CALM DOWN!” and realized how utterly ridiculous that was, I decided I needed a new coping strategy. I’ve found two that work for me. Perfectly? Of course not. I’m human. Sometimes I have to lock myself into my room and scream into a pillow. Or sit in the middle of the room, sipping my coffee, and trying to find my happy place. But for the main part, I can continue to act like an adult when she’s in temper-tantrum mode by:

  1. “The Seesaw Effect,” as described in this article. Basically, it says in words what we kind of intuitively grasp anyway, but it helped me to read it. The more frantic your child gets, the calmer you should get. I don’t know if it actually shortens the duration of Kara’s tantrums, but I like to think that it teaches her how to model calm behavior. More importantly at the time, however, it keeps me from throwing an adult-sized tantrum alongside my angel’s two-year-old one.
  2. Mind Your Manners. Why do we so often think that we can choose to ignore the rules of basic civility when it comes to those we love? When you most want to throw any rules of polite society out the window is probably when you need them the most. While it is possible to overuse this principle and punish those closest to you while wearing a mask of frosty formality, I think you’re probably better off, in the heat of the moment, erring on the side of being polite. This usually results in scenarios in which I replace a retaliatory action with a polite one. As an added bonus, I’ve noticed Kara saying “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me” regularly.

What do you do to keep sane during the insane times?

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