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Picking you battles - staying sane with a toddler in the house

When I first had T, J was only 18 months old so not quite into the Two’s yet. However he was teething and had difficultly dealing with not being the centre of attention – his world was turned upside down who can blame him. For a couple of weeks I was trying to get him back to being the lovely 18 month old that had been there on the 1st March just a week before T was born. But it wasn’t working and I was getting more and more stressed and worked up (lack of sleep and hormones).

A lot of wise women, including my mum and my friends with more than one child, kept telling me the same piece of advice “PICK YOU BATTLES“.  I didn’t get it – we weren’t battling he was just a toddler and I needed to teach him in a gentle way what was right and what was wrong. But it was fight and I was losing the will to carry on.

I discovered what they actually meant was decide what is most important and those are the things that I needed to deal with.

We were going through biting, throwing things at T, refusing to eat anything that was offered – all of which I know is normal toddler behaviour but a week before she was born we weren’t experiencing any of it.

So how did we go about picking our battles

  1. Decide what is important – for us anything violent was not something that we wanted and we knew that it was due to frustration and with the change of having a new baby sister however, it was making us unhappy I was worried that the hitting, biting would turn to T instead of me so it was the first thing we tackeled
  2. Decide how you will tackle it – there are so many different methods of parenting and each has their own way to deal with what could be problem behaviour – what you are comfortable with as the way you tackle it may not be something that I am comfortable with. For us we chose to go with a think about time. As a young toddler it was holding and talking through with J why we didn’t like him doing it as he go older we would sit him on a step or seat and talk to him about it as we could sit on the floor and be on level with him. I always validate his feelings as I know a lot of the problems come frustration or annoyance that something is happening but I also talk to him about why I don’t like it
  3. Be consistent – this was the hardest part for me, a lot of the bad behaviour would be in the middle of nursing T or whilst I was trying to help her go to sleep, my focus would be on her and at first I would just brush off the biting (well it was only a small nip would be my thoughts) but because I didn’t do the same thing every time he was getting a mixed message from me. Once I dealt with the same behaviour in the same way each time things improved
  4. See if there is anything else behind the behaviour – until a friend mentioned it I didn’t realise that a lot of things were happening at around the same time of the day – mid afternoon and mid morning were the worse – she suggested that he could be hungry and that the drop in blood sugar levels could cause problems. I brought the snack time forward and things improved
  5. Put in quiet time  – J dropped his naps very early he was only 19 months when it started but initally I wasn’t prepared for this and he just didn’t nap I also didn’t encourage him to have a rest and problems would arise in the afternoon, when someone mentioned to me a quiet time and I started to have a quiet time when T napped with him by putting on the TV and snuggling up (which also gave him some much needed 1 on 1 time) the problem diminished in the afternoon as he had had a chance to recharge his batteries.
  6. It’s a phase and will too pass – this was and still is my mantra with everything baby and toddler wise. You don’t see adults that eat with their hands, lay on the floor and hit their heads when they are told No, need to be fed every 2 hours day and night and behave like a toddler. Everything is a phase and it will pass, as each month passes J becomes more and more of a little boy an almost pre-schooler and a little less of a toddler and it is passing – just as T is starting to enter into it. But I know as we are going through it that it will pass and every moment is so short in the grand scheme of things. I’m learning to enjoy the good things and just remember the mantra.
Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

16 Comments

  1. This post showed up on my Facebook newsfeed at the perfect times my kids are wonderful but my two-these-old daughter is aggressive when fher one-yesr-old brother interferes with her play. This has great insights. Thank you!!!!

  2. I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old baby – the dynamics in our house definitely changed with the new addition! Toddlers seem to have so many different emotions in one day and they flick on and off like a switch. This is a great post, I know sometimes you just have to decide what is important and what you can live with – and I have to keep reminding myself of that 🙂

  3. Agree with all of these! Especially the be consistent one! It is amazing how smart kids are and how quickly they figure you out when you aren’t being consistent! Makes life so much harder when you are inconsistent… but it is still tough to maintain all the time!

    1. Very hard to maintain it. It’s my biggest struggle as as soon as I slip it’s an opening for J to use. I’m going to add a link into the quiet time part as just found your post from yesterday.

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