Birthing Jeremiah was one thing; bringing Jeremiah home, adjusting to life with a newborn and a toddler was another. It’s been great having a newborn and an active toddler at home, I’m loving every single bit of it… said no mom everrrrr!!!!!
God’s honest truth, it has been the most challenging and frustrating thing I have ever had to do in my adult life! Seraphina loved the idea of a brother but not the fact that every time she saw me, Jeremiah was attached to her mommy; literally attached. He’s a super clingy, cluster feeding, loudspeaker crying type of baby.
I didn’t notice this was such a huge trigger for my dear girl. My husband Courtney and I were noticing absolutely rotten behaviour from her and were dumbfounded by how intense the jealousy was. Two year olds have very strong intense emotions and no way of properly expressing them. Well, no positive ways of expressing themselves. Courtney and I were at our wits end with Seraphina’s horrendous behaviour. We knew the behaviour was a cry for attention and her trying to adjust to having a new baby in the house but the severity of that cry was lost to us.
It really hit me one night when I came into our room after putting Seraphina to bed, I said to Courtney “We have the bratty child that I always see out in the stores and never wanted!!” The weight of that statement leaving my mouth stung. Something had to be done. I refused to fail my child by not figuring out what she was so desperately trying to tell us. She was not going to be that bratty child. We were blessed to be her parents, we needed to figure this out.
Pay attention to me and show me that you love me. Before Jeremiah came home, I had fun with you mommy. We had our routines, we played together, you didn’t get so short tempered with me so quickly and so often. We had fun at bath time playing with bubbles, then we would read books together, say prayers and cuddle until I fell asleep. Now I barely see you without Jeremiah and you’re not playing with me as much. We don’t do our nightly routine as much anymore. I miss you.
This is what I gather my little 2 year old wants to say to me but is unable to. So instead, she was acting out with multiple daily tantrums, hitting, spitting running into the room where her brother slept to wake him up. Quite simply, she was doing what she could to get my attention, weather it was positive or negative. Unfortunately, this negative attention seeking was working. I would react emotionally, yell, rush over to her… she had succeeded! She got my attention!
I started searching for parenting books and stumbled upon a gem! No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury. It was exactly what I needed in this moment. Some of the information I already knew but it was necessary to hear it again. I will definitely refer back to this book for years to come.
Some overarching points stuck with me;
- Offering choices as much as possible. It gives my toddler some sense of control. An option that Seraphina loves is “would you like to walk there on your own or would you like me to carry you.”
- Keep your emotions in check. Kids are smart and know when your not in control of your emotions. They literally smell fear and capitalize!!!
- Realize that bad behaviour is a cry for help. Is she tired, lonely, needs some attention, quiet time, has there been changes in her life that she has to deal with or is she just in the mood to challenge the rules, test her boundaries a bit.
- Be a few steps ahead of her. Stick to the routine and anticipate her next moves as much as possible.
- Above all things, keep your cool. Breath before you react.
- Kids remember. If your child is acting out what major changes has happened in the last few weeks or months.
- Offer them an explanation. For example, if she is tantruming we give her a safe space to get it all out and then talk to her about what the matter is once she has calmed down.
The result, Seraphina is a much calmer, more cooperative child these days. I try to be as much a part of her day as possible. I’m sticking with our bedtime routine of reading her books, praying together and nighttime cuddles. Daddy takes care of her morning routine before daycare but I join in when Jeremiah sleeps in later.
The other day I lifted her up for an awesome bear hug and she said “Mommy, I’m happy.” if that wasn’t confirmation enough that we’re heading in the right direction, I don’t know what is. Those words are every parents goal. To have happy children. Childhood should be all about being happy. We haven’t had to deal with a tantrum in almost a month and I am thankful for that!