All I wanted was to walk on the treadmill for maybe…20 minutes. Is that too much to ask?
I had a great plan–I would hop on the treadmill in the basement while my son (age 2 at the time) played with the plethora of toys down there. Easy peasy.
Minute 5 rolled around and the whining began.
“Car on track…ahh.” My son couldn’t get the little Matchbox car onto the track the right way.
“I’ll help you in just a few minutes,” I said hoping he would calm down on his own. “Do it myself…urrgh, it won’t go,” my son continued. I could see the tension building but I decided the push on. I really needed some exercise.
Then I heard it–a loud “clunk.” My toddler had thrown the car across the room and it had hit the wall. Crying and fussing ensued. Oops, I had missed the point of no return. We were in full-on tantrum mode.
“Remain calm,” I told myself. “He’s just frustrated.”
I try to calm him but to no avail. He pushed me away. He had to get it out. I told him to take some breaths but that just made him more upset. So I just stood by him and he eventually calmed down but it took a long time.
My “20 minutes on the treadmill” had turned into a half-hour fiasco.
This is Him
I look back at this incident now and I see–this is what it means to be a toddler. He was trying so hard to assert his independence and he is very independent by nature. “I do it myself” is a constant refrain, even now at almost-4 years old.
Curious about how much sleep, movement and screen time is recommended for toddlers? Check out the newest guidelines here (plus a Free chart).
This is Him Learning
Toddlers are often testing limits, but they do it because they are learning. They are learning new skills, new ideas and how they fit in their world.
Combine a strive for independence and limited self-regulation, you have a recipe for potential high-stress situations. As parents, it’s tough to keep a calm attitude.
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Being the Model I Want Him to See
Diffuse the Situation
Knowing my toddler was not intentionally trying to derail my workout was the first step in keeping a calm mindset. Most of the time, these little ones are not trying to “push your buttons” or make you upset on purpose.
- Knowledge is power: if you understand what is typical for toddler behavior, it makes it easier to take it in stride (at least most of the time). If we know that they act irrationally and have little self-control, that helps us remain in control.
- The “golden rule” still applies to grownups: it may sound simplistic but the old rule of “treat others how you would like to be treated” still applies to toddler-parent interactions (at least to some degree). We are modeling behavior for our kids with every action. If I yell at my toddler (which we all do from time to time), then we are modeling anger. However, if the other 90% of the time, we model compassion, patience, and self-regulation, they will eventually learn this.
For more help with toddlers…
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