What if I just hit the deck every time I didn’t get my way? Would that get me very far in life?
Apparently I’ve learned along the way that it doesn’t… but I watch my two-year-old moving from a normal standing position to sprawling out on the floor multiple times a day and realize that clearly this is a lesson he’s yet to learn.
My mom said that when I was little I would hold my breath – that was my way of engaging in the power struggle. My own toddler has done the wet noodle, head-banging on the floor, screaming, throwing things, and probably other shananagins that I can’t even remember. But his favorite—by far—is just to hit the deck.
I can’t have juice now? Ok, I’ll lay on the floor.
You want to get me dressed? Alright then, I’ll lay on the floor.
Why can’t I watch TV? Fine, I think I’ll just lay on the floor.
It’s easy to get fed up with the (negative) antics of a toddler. (It’s also hard to refrain from laughing a lot of the time.)
Just when did they learn to be so dramatic?
Yes, I know the “real” reasons – the struggle with language, the growing independence, the developing fine and gross motor skills that aren’t always as refined and polished as their little hearts desire, etc. etc.
But I also know it’s just that they’re little people, not yet skilled at the art of composing themselves.
There have been many times already where I’ve watched Levi throwing a train because it fell off the tracks, kicking his bike because it rammed into something, or chucked food on the floor because he didn’t like the taste of it.
And I see myself—my inner self—in his bad behavior.
How many times do I want to ram my car into another driver because he cut me off?
How many times do I want to throw my computer against the wall because it’s frozen (again)?
How many times do I want to abandon my screaming kids and leave them to work it out themselves while I drive to a café for a quiet coffee and a magazine?
I have all the same feelings and emotions of anger and frustration that Levi does… it’s just that I’ve learned “hitting the deck” doesn’t get me very far. I’ve learned it doesn’t actually solve anything. I’ve learned I have the power to bring change if only I can keep a level head, use sound reasoning and creativity, and exercise a bit of patience.
But my little two-year-old isn’t as smart as I am.
He’s not had to endure endless hours on the phone with automated “customer service” lines to help him learn self-control. (You know that’s what they were designed for, right??)
When we’re in the thick of a tantrum day (as some days just are – I’m betting you know what I mean), it helps me to remember that he’s just being human.
He’s being very human… just not very adult.
I can totally relate to the train throwing and bike kicking and food chucking… I’ve just had a few more years to learn how to not act on my every whim.
That, my friends, is what helps gives me the fuel to deal with his tantrums with a little more compassion and a little more patience.
Someday, just as my mom’s told me I used to hold my breath during power struggles, I will also be chuckling as I tell Levi he used to hit the deck.
Until then, we’re both teaching each other patience and self-control.
And, if truth be told, I’m sometimes jealous that it’s considered normal for him to throw his peas on the floor… because I certainly have days where I feel like doing that too.
Dear friends, how are your littles frustrating—and mirroring—you lately? Can you see yourself in their melt-downs? How do you remain compassionate and level-headed when dealing with the drama?