I was out at dancing class today with M, all the mothers congregate in this tiny cupboard of a room while our mostly daughters run around the dance studio mostly having fun. Occasionally one child comes in wanting some of mommies attention but mostly it gives us mommies some respite time and for me a chance to earwig in some conversations.
So today I heard a mommy talking about her constant battle every morning she has with her son, he won’t get dressed, he won’t brush his teeth, he won’t eat his breakfast.
Anyone with a toddler has had all of these moments and at some point and wanted to despair at the thought of how to stop a toddler having a tantrum.
It actually got me thinking when the mother commented, “It’s clear he’s not a morning person like me.” I suddenly had a bit of an ‘ah ha’ moment as I started to think about the correlation between the mothers mood and the toddlers mood.
Why is it when we as mommies feel stressed our toddlers stress us out even more, and I think it’s fairly clear the reason is the kids can pick up on our moods and I’m pretty sure they react to them.
So this mommy is clearly not a morning person, every morning she gets up, not in the best of moods herself because she has told herself she is not a morning person. She awaits the battle because she expects this morning as any other, the toddler will again play up. The toddler plays up, the battle begins and the cycle continues.
So how do we solve this problem?
I’ve realised from dealing with M’s toddler meltdowns that if my mood is not in a good place, it makes it far more difficult to deal with. So the first step is to make sure you are approaching this from a ‘every situation is unique’ stance. try not to let what happened yesterday affect what may or may not happen today.
the cycle will continue until it is broken and chances are it’s the mommy thats going to have to try to break this cycle.
So what do you do? Wake up fresh accept mornings aren’t great, you feel tired but that’s not your toddlers fault.
So let’s get dressed – the toddler doesn’t want to, before I think he’s like this every morning I think well how can I make getting dressed a different experience? maybe this can be a game. Whose going to get dressed first mommy or toddler? clothes on check, we’ve both had fun and it’s no longer a stress.
Next we have to brush our teeth. The toddler doesn’t want to, how can I break the cycle what new ways can I try, ok I’m going to try and see if you can sing a song while I brush your teeth, lots of aahhs and eees, which gets the mouth wide open. Lots of laughing and one happy toddler.
next to breakfast – ok lets get creative, why don’t you let the toddler choose their own breakfast – excellent they’ve come up with some strange concoction but they are eating their breakfast.
Not everything will work for every toddler they are all different but you’ll know things your toddler likes so try and make the activities fun. Don’t give up just keep trying new ways until something sticks and if the toddler is just not having anything maybe try to ask them what they want to do.
Aside from the tantrum, have a chat with the toddler and find out why they don’t like getting up in the morning. they may have a genuine reason or it might just be that they have got so used to behaving like this it’s just the way it is.
Most importantly don’t let your mood affect the toddlers mood, think about how the way you are feeling could be influencing the way you deal with the situation. If you’re expecting something to be bad it probably will be so try and anticipate it’s going to be a good experience today.
If something isn’t working I just try doing it another way. Of course you’ll get stressed and forget all this one day, but as long as you are aware how your mood affects theirs you’ll start noticing their behaviour is often the worst when you’re feeling at your worst.