You often hear the phrase, “Terrible Twos” once your child enters toddlerhood. But what do you do if your child’s “Terrible Twos” never go away?
Parenting a child who constantly defies what you say can bring down even the most positive person. If this is you, hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day and these tips will help you get through another day.
1. Have realistic expectations of yourself and your child. If you know your son is hard to parent and finishing even the most mundane task can seem impossible, break it down. Give yourself one thing to get done all day besides being your son’s mom. It gets easy to get bogged down in one of their tantrums but you need time for you. Set him up with something busy (think colouring books, puzzles or Legos depending on his age) and go take a shower. This should be one of the first things you do for yourself in the morning. It can set the whole tone for the rest of the day if you are feeling refreshed and ready to go.
2. Take a breath and maybe even a time out. It is natural to want to react when your daughter talks back to you in a disrespectful way. If you are prone to saying things that are on the negative side when you do go to correct her, give yourself a time out and tell her you need a minute and will come back to her when you have collected your thoughts. Sometimes that initial pause between reacting and responding can save a heartache of bad feelings later. Immediately yelling back at her or saying something just as disrespectful will only fuel a child who is naturally defiant. They like a challenge so don’t give them one.
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3. Set yourself up for success. If you know your son likes to play outside but you don’t, find a way to make it enjoyable for the both of you. Getting fresh air is good for anyone but especially children whose temperament thrives off of pushing your buttons. Set up a folding lawn chair in your garage and do a crossword puzzle while he kicks a ball around. If he insists that you play with him and starts screaming, tell him you will kick the ball back and forth for 10 minutes and then you are going to sit down for five minutes to drink your coffee. This way, you are both doing something you want to do and you are setting boundaries with your defiant child.
4. Find the positive and magnify it. If your daughter has a love for animals, focus on that. Children with behavioural issues tend to have low self-esteem. There is nothing better than having a furry friend cuddle up in your lap and give you endless amounts of affection. Take her to your local animal shelter and let her volunteer with the animals or if you have a dog, let her hold the leash when you go for a walk. Capitalizing on her strengths will help her see what she is good at. Sometimes a child’s identity gets so wrapped up in what they are doing wrong rather than what they are doing right. Nurture her and help her see what is good about who she is. This will create trust between the two of you, which is huge when you are parenting a child who constantly seeks negative attention.
5. Find a support system. This can be hard if you live in an area that is behind the times on mental health issues but that’s okay. Be the catalyst for change that you want to see. If there isn’t a support group for moms with children who have behavioural issues, start one. If you find a group but it’s farther than you want to drive, maybe commit to going once a month. It is so important to surround yourself with other parents who get what you are going through. People mean well when they tell you it is just a phase or you need to discipline better because they don’t know any better. Educate yourself so that you can educate others. If you are not ready to be so public about your family’s struggles, that’s okay too. Join an online group where there is more anonymity but still an environment where you can get support.
Creating a lifeline is vital to making it through the younger years with a defiant child. Give yourself a head start (and a life line) and use these five tips to help you get yourself up and out of bed tomorrow.