Learning When To Let It Go

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I am every bit of two years old.
I am every bit of two years old.

We are in it, guys — fully immersed in everything it means to be 2 years old.  I don’t know if I’m willing to say that it’s “terrible” but I’d be lying if I said that it isn’t… challenging.  My toddler has figured out that he has power and control, and he’s exploring that and testing me with it all.day.long.

Add a new baby to the mix, and I feel like I’m doing a lot more reprimanding and time-outs than I like.  My fuse it too short and my patience is too thin, and I’m trying really hard to recognize that.  Because at the end of the day, challenging or not, my 2-year-old is exactly that — 2.  And after a few too many dinnertime disasters and toddler bed battles, I’m finally realizing that so much of his behavior is a direct result of mine.

Now, of course I’m not saying that he doesn’t need rules or discipline, because my kid is definitely the “give an inch, take a mile” type.  But he also needs the freedom to learn, explore, and make mistakes all on his own.  So recently, I’ve been trying to really and truly pick my battles.  I have a controlling personality by nature, so it’s easy for me to think there is a “right” way to do most things.  But by backing off a bit, I’ve been able to see that he often learns best when he’s able to figure out the right way for him all on his own.

I’m still a stickler for things like no feet on the dinner table, being careful near baby brother, and not playing on the steps — mostly, things that promote staying safe.  But I’m trying to bite my tongue when I see him do things like dump his entire play kitchen onto the floor, or run through the house with a football screaming “touchdown!”  He needs the space to be creative and use his imagination, and by backing off of my rules and letting more things go, he is getting that.  I can tell he is happier with the freedom to explore and grow, and ultimately we are both happier because there is less punishment and fewer battles.  I also think he takes me more seriously now when there is an issue, as he’s not hearing me tell him “no” every five minutes anymore.

I’ll tell you what — this toddler discipline stuff is no joke.  And the stuff about age 2 is no lie.  But there is also no question that despite the challenges, it is an age that brings me a lot of joy and happiness at the end of the day.

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