My daughter hasn’t even learned to say “no” yet and I’ve already experienced moments when her behaviors have been trying for my patience – especially at times when my fuse was already feeling extra short.
I know that it won’t always be a reality, but I really want to try my hardest not to lose my cool with her. I’m sure the day will come when I lose it, and when it does I will come back and apologize and talk with her about it, but until then, I try to employ some really simple techniques when I’m feeling frustrated with her and I thought I’d share them. They’re simple, but they really make a difference in helping me to stay calm during the challenging moments and maybe they’ll help you in keeping your cool with a toddler too.
5 Tips For Keeping Your Cool With a Toddler When You’re Feeling Frustrated 1 of 6
In the course of a lifetime of being a parent, losing your cool on occasion is probably something that's just going to happen. But, hopefully you can make these moments the exception and not the rule by keeping some positive ways for dealing in your back pocket. Here are a few that I find helpful during those moments when I'm feeling like I'm about to lose it.
1. Know your triggers. 2 of 6
Many times the fact that I'm feeling frustrated with my toddler is more about me than it actually is about her. Knowing your triggers (and your child's!) - the things that push your buttons and set you off - is key for stopping these frustrating situations before they start. My personal trigger is when Fern is hanging on me and wanting my attention, which is often right while I'm in the middle of trying to complete an important task. The problem is, that often I try to complete too many "important tasks" during the course of a day and quite understandably, after awhile Fern grows tired of having half my attention and wants me to stop what I'm doing and devote my attention to her alone. I realize that she can't always have all of me, but I end up giving her the leftovers of my attention more often than I would like to admit. By prioritizing my tasks and setting aside focused time with her, I can often stop this frustration before it even starts and in turn avoid her trigger as well by just spending a little more quality time with her.
2. Breathe 3 of 6
The power of simply stopping to breathe cannot be overstated. This is a key coping mechanism that I used to employ with my preschoolers when they were frustrated dring my teaching days and I actually started using it myself, because there were plenty of times I was feeling frustrated with them as well. Simply taking a few deep breaths before addressing a challenging situation can be enough to keep you from yelling and instead help you to respond in a calm and more productive manner. It is definitely helpful for me!
3. Give your feelings a name. 4 of 6
One of the most difficult things about parenting a toddler is that they can't tell you how they feel and often they can't understand how we feel either. Despite this fact, we talk about feelings a lot around here. While I do care that my daughter learns her ABCs and how to count one day, I am far more concerned with her being able to be emotionally adept and able to express herself. So, when I'm feeling frustrated, I let her know. When I feel like I just might snap, because she's incessantly whining, I look at her and say, "I'm feeling very frustrated with you right now." Sometimes just putting it out there in the universe is all I need to feel a little better. I also try to help my toddler give her feelings a name. When she is crying inconsolably or being a little extra challenging, I might say, "You look sad/frustrated/like you need help/like you're bored" and then help her try to find a solution to that feeling. Obviously I can't always know exactly how she's feeling, but giving these emotions, both hers and mine, a name really helps during the frustrating moments.
4. Try a change of scenery. 5 of 6
Ahhh, the wonderful art of distraction. It's a very useful tool, both for my toddler and for myself. There are days when the fussiness is almost unbearable and doesn't seem to have any reason and it is in those moments that I find a change of scenery is the best medicine. Nothing is better for a case of the grumps than some fresh air, so next time your toddler is a wreck and you're feeling like you might lose your cool, take a walk down the block. Sometimes that really is all it takes.
5. Look at the big picture. 6 of 6
Sometimes I have to stop and look at the whole picture and ask myself: "Why am I feeling so frustrated right now?" Often times I am upset over things that at their core are really just the result of Fern learning and exploring the world around her. When she keeps opening and closing the kitchen cupboards and dumping everything out ont the floor? Despite the fact that it might sometimes feel like my toddler has a personal vendetta to saddle me with more cleaning duties, she's really just trying new things and figuring out how the world works. When I stop to take note of this and am cognizant of her development, these situations become a lot less frustrating and sometimes they even become a little bit endearing. I also remind myself of the mantra of a fellow preschool teacher friend of mine in these moments. When she was feeling frustrated with our preschoolers, she would take a deep breath and say to herself: "This child has only only been on this earth for four years." and it would remind her to cut the kids a little slack. They're kids and they're still learning and being a little frustrating from time to time is kind of just par for the course. So, this is my new mantra: "She's only been on this earth for 16 months...." A reminder to stop and look at the big picture.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble. More from Lauren: