The Terrible Two Tango

Parenting isn't for the birds. It isn't for the faint of heart. It isn't for anyone that doesn't like to do hard things. It isn't for me usually between 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.  near daily because my two year old has some serious need to be heard during that hour.

 Three years have passed since I've had a two year old and he, (William-now five) although clingy, wasn't nearly as loud and in my face as our current two year old in residence.

Our Hannah was succeeding in breaking me down. Her terrible twos made me want to hang my mama hat. I was ready to announce, "I'm clocking out -- forever!"
 I've spent the last year giving some sage and calming advice to new mamas. I've sat with them and held long conversations on the phone or via text. I've given them all the tricks I've got up my sleeve. I've calmly accepted their compliments on my children's behavior, and I've prayed for them at night that they would be able to wake up and have a great parenting turn around with their kiddo struggling with potty training, nap time, traveling, school work, chores, attitude, eating, nursing, not sleeping, and basically all things related to raising perfect children like mine.

A few days ago, I stood in my front yard at a complete loss. I didn't want to even try interacting with Hannah. I didn't even desire to succeed. I basically wanted someone else to do it so I could focus on all the other children and laundry and dishes and meals and bills and anything but a tantrum.

I made a phone call. I called my professional two year old mom friend. We talked for ten minutes. She helped me remember all of those two year old things that are so hard and so important and so fun. We talked about using real words, real boundaries, and real consequences, and real praise.

"Hannah, I will not hold you, I will hold your hand. I will gladly walk with you, but I'm not picking you up. You have strong legs and you can do this." If she keeps crying, then I put her in a place where she is safe and can cry her little eyes out until she is ready to walk. The fun part is a two year old only has about two minutes of tears in them before they are ready to rejoin the party.
"Hannah you have to stay in your seat while you eat, you can't get up and walk around and get up and get down. Sit and eat." And add some praise..."You are so good at sitting in that seat and this is really good food."

"Hannah, I will buckle the bottom buckles, you can buckle the top. If you fuss, I buckle both." Then,  "You are so good at buckling that top buckle!"

"Hannah, after we have finished this puzzle, you can do some on your own while I cook dinner."

"Here are two outfits, which one do you want to wear?" Instead of her rummaging through the drawers pulling out everything.

Basically, all of it involves talking directly to Hannah. Telling her exactly what she needs to hear, giving her a choice in a boundary and helping her see that I am here, I am with her, she is fine and she is smart.

Affirmation, real words, real directions, real life. Kids are real and alive and need to be treated that way. They want to be a part of our worlds and letting them participate with boundaries gives them so much freedom. Hannah helps me cook. It's awful. It is messy, but if I let her help for a minute, she will cook on her own kitchen set or sit on the floor with her baby doll. Then, if I play babydoll for two minutes and change a babydoll diaper and send her off to collect some ingredients in her cart from the pantry, I've bought enough time to chop all the veggies for dinner.





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