Friday, May 14, 2010

Two Year Olds...

I have one. She is beautiful. And smart. And funny. And she brings me joy everyday with her spunky personality. I love who she is. And I love what she will become. She is amazing. She is also amazingly willful.

And no - it's not just a two year old thing - she's been willful from the beginning. If it's not her idea, it's not okay. The fact that she is two and exerting more of her independence has only intensified her strong will.

Lucky for me, and her, I am willful too.'s just really a waiting game. When we get into a bind, I usually just have to wait her out until she caves. Which sometimes can take a very long time. I try to avoid these situations with distractions - which usually works.

So what do I do when things don't work and she has a meltdown? My number one priority in that scenario is to stay totally calm. Being calm keeps me in control and helps me to see the bigger picture. It also means my head, and not my emotions, are driving my actions. I also follow through and remain consistent in our already established family rules.

So after she screamed hysterically the entire way home from the park (to the point of gagging) and then refused to sit on the potty. I told her she had to stay in the bathroom until she was done crying and she had to sit on the potty before we could watch her pre-nap Elmo's World.

She continued to scream. I talked in a very calm, loving voice and reminded her that she could "choose to be happy" - a phrase I am sure she will loath in her teen years. I then left the room. She screamed awhile longer. When I went to check on her she had peed all over herself, sitting on the floor right next to the potty...

My instant gut reaction was anger - she knows better! She's been potty trained for awhile now and loves sitting on the potty! What the heck is she doing!?

But before any of that reached the surface I took a deep breath and back tracked. I reminded her that tinkles go in the potty and then we had to change her clothes and she helped clean up. She wanted hugs. I gave them to her. A little pee never hurt anyone.

She was still uncontrollably upset and I asked her if she wanted to say a prayer. I explained that when we're sad or angry praying can help us feel better. She said yes. So we prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help her be happy and calm. Amen.

I asked her if she felt better. She said yes and gave me big hugs and cuddles and said sorry. We watched five minutes of Elmo and she remained calm when I tucked her in for her nap.

Whew! I am emotionally and physically exhausted. It took every ounce of my will to remain calm. I don't think I'm a bad mom to admit that I wanted to swat her little behind. My natural instinct was to spank her, yell, teach her who was boss, and leave her in her crib to cry herself to sleep. But what would that have accomplished?

I would have felt horrible after. She would be scared of me, and probably still crying instead of sleeping. More importantly - I would have missed a prime opportunity to teach my daughter about the power of prayer and to exemplify the Savior's love for us. Unconditional.

The Savior is who I turn to for my parenting skills - in any situation I can ask myself, what would Christ do? It helps me keep my cool and later, I don't have any regrets.

I usually try to keep religion out of this blog as to not isolate anyone. I don't want to be preachy.

I'm just curious - when you have been pushed to your breaking point - where does you inner strength come from? Do you think of your mom and what she would have done? Do you try to see things from your child's perspective? What helps you keep your cool and not raise your hand to your child?


  1. You're amazing! I don't think I would have handled that situation so calmly. I hope I can be as good a mom as you. )

  2. I found your blog off mormon mommy blogs. I enjoyed the post as I have a willful almost three year old as well. Very good advice that I will apply!

  3. What a wonderful reminder! I have such a big temper. Little things will get me. I can't stand the twisting around during diaper changes and when I am on the computer, the pinches to my arm fat. I try to stay calm, but I certainly need work. Thank you so much for your advice. I think remembering the Savior and what he would do is so helpful. I think we both could use a little bit more of the spirit during the week. Perfect post!

  4. Great post. My dad yelled at us a lot when we were growing up, and when I'm frustrated with my kids I try to remember how totally ineffective yelling was. Sure, when we were small we were scared into good behavior but as we got older we were just alienated and cynical and mostly ignored his tantrums. I try to reserve yelling at my kids for emergencies, (Stay out of the street, etc.) so when I do yell they know that it's important. Yelling often loses its potency.

  5. I came across your blog and I love this post! It is comforting to know I'm not the only mother of a very willful two year old who sometimes makes me want to lose all patience! :) You handled the situation AMAZINGLY...and I will think of you next time my little one throws a tantrum. Thanks for the good example. Something I do is I literally pray every morning to have the spirit with me so that I can be a patient mother.

  6. This makes me think of the book, "Christlike Parenting" which totally changed me for the better and I highly recommend it to everyone


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