Posted by: Paul | March 11, 2010

Spawn of Frustration

I’ll be completely honest here. Yesterday was the worst day I’ve ever had in looking after our little one.

It was one of those “wit’s end” days I’m sure all parents are familiar with. The child needs to sleep but won’t and as such is overtired and ready primed for tantrums. The parent is frustrated by the subsequent behaviour and the situation becomes a snowballing nightmare of angry toddler and angry parent, making each other angrier!

He’s clearly testing boundaries at the moment, too. It’s the beginning of the end of the afternoon nap, and the beginning of the so-called “terrible twos” which everyone thinks, at 18 months, couldn’t possibly happen to their sweet little child!

The thing I found most difficult to deal with yesterday was that nothing I could do was right, or would calm him down. I spent two hours being screamed at while I tried to find things to occupy him with. He cried that he wanted some toy or game in particular. When I got it out for him, he screamed and knocked it out of my hands or threw it away. When I went to put it away, he screamed for it back. Gave it back to him and he screamed again. Repeat until bored! It’s one of those situations which is enough to put people off becoming parents!

His behaviour, and that of most tantruming two-year-olds, springs from the fact that he’s at that transition point in his communication with and understanding of the world around him. He feels bad because he’s tired, or his teeth hurt, or Daddy doesn’t understand what he wants and he can’t make him understand. Put in those terms, coldly the next day, it’s easy to sympathise with the child. But when he’s a seething ball of screaming snot, flailing on the floor, it’s rather different. I can see how it would be very easy to resort to smacking, because you need to get your frustration out somehow – but you must retain absolute control. Remember you are the parent. You are the adult. You are the one with wit and reason, and are in ultimate control of the situation. It is temporary. It will pass. Go and make tea.

Eventually of course, he did calm down. I gave him an early tea at Mummy’s suggestion, and began the bedtime routine which took his mind off whatever was so vexing. There will be other days like yesterday. Just please, PLEASE make it not tomorrow!

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