17 Aug The Calm to their Storm
By: Carli Mosby-Smith, Kentucky Youth Advocates
My daughter turned one a few months back and with it came all of the fun events and milestones, like first birthday parties, learning to walk, and moving up a class in daycare. Something I was entirely unprepared for, however, were the tantrums.
When she turned one, it was like a switch flipped and she suddenly realized that independence was a possibility for her. Where bathing and dressing my sweet baby used to be oh so simple, it’s now like wrestling a 20+ pound alligator with an extremely high-pitched scream. One small setback (i.e. her shoe falls off, or she drops a snack, or heaven-forbid Mom and Dad won’t let her stand on top of her toy box) brings an explosion of anger and frustration and, yes, actual tears (not just from her, I might add).
I spent the first few weeks of this new display of emotions extremely frustrated and frankly flabbergasted. I had no idea that one-year-olds could throw tantrums quite like this (I mean, they do call them the Terrible Two’s for a reason, right?) I will be the first to tell you that I did not respond well during those first few tantrums. And if I am being honest, that is still sometimes the case. But after digging into the research, I understood that these emotional outbursts were developmentally normal and I finally felt that we were in a good place of handling them in a positive way…
And then this weekend happened…
It was a culmination of things that created the chaos: one-year-old molars are coming in, we cold-turkey took the bottle away, and we (aka: she) decided to wake up at 5am every morning for almost a week straight. And we were not handling these changes and inconveniences well. I had just put my screaming toddler down for the night and hopped on social media to take my mind away from our predicament and the first post that popped up was from one of the many positive parenting profiles I follow. It said “Positive Parenting Mantras to remember for the rough days: I’m the Calm to their Storm.”
It was such a great reminder to me that my daughter is in a period of her life where she is learning A LOT of new things, but one of the most important skills she is currently attempting to master is emotional regulation. Those situations that seem like minor inconveniences to us, are BIG to her – and they produce BIG emotions in her. And to add fuel to the fire, she isn’t yet able to communicate those emotions to us.
Ultimately, my job as her parent is to teach her how to calm herself down… And the best way to do that is to model calmness myself. There are times when calm is the last emotion I want to feel, but taking a moment to regain my composure helps to approach her with the compassion and understanding that she needs in that moment.
It’s not always easy to do this, and I know there will be times when I mess up. But remembering this mantra is now my go-to strategy in these moments of frustration. To all the toddler parents out there: hang in there and when you need it, ask for help. It gets easier. And remember, you are a GREAT parent!