My sister says babies are born yogis…I don’t know, I’ve never seen a yogi jerk herself backwards into what looks like a convulsion because she can’t watch Sesame Street during breakfast or throw her dinner plate on the floor because she’s not allowed to use my steak knife as a teether. Temper tantrums don’t seem to be a result of meditation and yogic breathing so I’m not quite sure what she’s talking about. What I do know is that I’m bombarded with messages about how children are becoming more entitled and self-absorbed and the fear of raising another member of a yet to be defined but hopelessly condemned generation has thrown me into a state of premature disciplining.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks trying to reason with a 1 year old, a child whose vocabulary is currently limited to “Elmo”,” water”, “blankie” and, ironically, “no”. These attempts have failed to communicate the dire consequences of certain actions and seem to have stimulated more bad behaviour and crying on both our parts. Everyone tells you that there is no right or wrong way to parent, while a comforting notion I always considered it a cliché. Doesn’t every situation have an answer that can either solve the issue or make it worse? It’s the journey to this highly regarded answer that can be a trying one when you’re a first-time mummy in need of solutions.
Since I’ve missed the boat on disciplining, I recently shifted my strategy to include diversion tactics. On the upside, it’s relatively effective but on the downside, it’s massively exhausting. Yes, babies do have short attention spans that can be manipulated but finding the right distraction can be a long process of trial and error that really tests your patience. Sometimes it’s bubbles or a book, other times it’s something as trivial as a toothbrush, a spoon or even chapstick! Fortunately, this approach has proven to be more productive than explaining to her why, for example, she shouldn’t put a cheese grater in her mouth.
Over the last year and a half it’s become quite clear that I had very unreal expectations on what parenting would be like so am currently in the process of reconciling “what should be” with “what is”. Within this process I’ve come to the realization that sometimes you just need to pick your battles and understand that if she’s content chewing on the menu while you finish your meal at a restaurant then so freakin be it. Chew on baby girl! At 17 months old, keeping her happy via distractions is much more rewarding than having her flip out because she can’t understand why I’m saying no. There will be plenty of opportunities to discipline my little yogi so right now I’m focussed on minimizing outbursts and maximizing laughter.
If you’re dealing with a similar situation as I am, please take comfort in knowing that every search result on Google describes tantrums as a very normal part of a child’s development, particularly between the ages of 1 and 3 when they’re building their communications skills. Actually, if you think about it, temper tantrums are a normal part of being a human being, adults just show their frustrations in different ways (I lost my s*** the other day because my husband ate the last Klondike bar…).
Check out this article on 10 Things to Do When Your Child Loses His Cool for tips on dealing with tantrums and please feel free to share your own ideas below.