Parenting a Two-Year-Old Has its Ups and Downs

The last week at the Ramseyer roost has been a challenging one. While parenting our son is generally fun and engaging the past week I think all parties involved would wish to wipe away clean.

Most likely things stemmed from the mini man being sick on and off for the past two weeks, which resulted in us allowing for more treats (TV programs), a looser schedule (nap times all over the board) and feeding him whatever his appetite would condone (gingerbread cookies are a “bread” product since they have “bread” in the name.)

Now that he has bounced back, we need to bring things back to center and continue navigating the uncharted moods of a two-year-old little boy.

So that’s when he introduced the 1.5-hour tantrum. Much like a snow squall it can come out of nowhere and hit the recipient without any warning. It might be triggered by:

  • kisses from the dog
  • forcing him to take his coat and mittens off at home since he is now a sweating to death
  • making him put on his coat and hat before we leave in a blizzard
  • wrong cup color for his milk
  • cutting him off after 2 cups at any mealtime
  • daring to set him down for a nap without the correct stories being read
  • not letting him pick out a shirt to wear
  • letting him pick out a shirt to wear
  • forcing him into his socks
  • removing his socks
  • looking at him
  • not looking at him
  • the list doesn’t end…

Any one of these things can create a disturbance some lasting a mere set of minutes while others setting him up for a disastrous  tantrum. For those of you who aren’t familiar with one, the dictionary definition states, “( often plural ) a childish fit of rage; outburst of bad temper.”

At their worst, a tantrum can feel like being forced to negotiate with a short-statured, by-polar dictator. You must follow his rules and you must follow his moods, but neither has any rhyme or reason.  So what do you do? At our weakest we can let it get to us. It hits me hardest when he refuses to eat anything, or we can get annoyed enough to need to leave the room. That’s when he wins. The key isn’t making him lose, it’s finding a way around the problem to happier grounds.

Each child is precious and each child is different. Yes, we know.

For example Henry is much like his Mama (no not because of tantrums, I was apparently a perfect child.) He doesn’t like too much of a routine and being cooped up in the winter. I don’t like it either, but for many parents having a routine saves their ability to parent. For us it makes things fall apart. We noticed that said tantrums became longer, more frequent and louder after we’ve been home for too many days/nights in a row.

To remedy this problem I chose to battle Mother Nature and her weather spectacular in our tiny CIVIC and drive to the grocery store with Henry. Yep, our BIG adventure at the grocery store. Armed with snacks, two cups of milk (which he drank on the way there,) to “triangle cheeses“, fishy crackers, fig bars and squeezies. People commented how nicely he was behaved and how cute he was. Meanwhile he kept feeding the entire time we were there, I kept the conversation to light topics (no need to discuss politics and religion) and there were lots of colorful packages and signage to distract him when he would get bored.

Now cue the one things that started to unravel an otherwise perfect night… SANDY the horse.

Sandy is a mechanical horse at Meijer that all children love. For a penny your child can enjoy riding the horse for about 30 seconds. Half the time she isn’t working so you have to explain that there is a sign and the sign means she won’t work, or you have to try prying your child off of Sandy so that someone else can have a turn.

Last night, Henry didn’t want anything to do with Sandy. Until we got to the car. Cue the first mini tantrum. So what do you do in a small space? You distract with whatever you have, apparently he found the car dealerships interesting so we talked about the cars he saw. Success.

Once we got in he was upset that he couldn’t finish his snacks (it was beyond bedtime now.) what worked? nothing until I asked if a toothbrush is used to scrub ones toes – though it took 10 minutes through silly conversation he finally climbed into my lap, grabbed the toothbrush to show me how it worked. Success.

More mini disturbances followed that evening, but each was navigated carefully with distraction. (At some point I saw Happy Birthday to every single person in our family.) Success.

The final disturbance of the night has to do with being put to bed. Up until recently he loved to snuggle down in his bed with a big comforter, now he kicks and screams as if he is on a bed of hot coals. There is no remedy for this. I lay him down, he jumps up and down and screams. He is pissed. I cannot fix this. I kiss his head and try to not get my teeth knocked out, I tell him I love him, I tell him it’s bedtime and I walk out. The screaming generally stops after 10 minutes. Otherwise we check in on him again. It’s not magical and it’s not perfect but each day we work on it and hope this phase will pass.

Then we’ll get to enjoy some new milestones and new challenges along the way.



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