Being a parent to a toddler can certainly have some challenges. You child is becoming their own person, with ideas, opinions and questions of their own. It is likely that they will want to test limits, do things for themselves, make choices, disagree, let you know their likes and dislikes.
There is a secret weapon for how to survive, or even prevent these meltdowns.
This weapon will help you to survive the emotional whirlwind, the high’s a lows, of your developing child.
The secret is – respectful communication.
You know that saying – “if you want to get respect, you’ve got to give respect.” The same thing applies to parenting.
Respectful communication means really taking the time to talk with your child, to listen to them and to support them as best you can. Respectful communication requires mindfulness – really being in tune with what your child is trying to tell you, and being in tune with yourself and your own responses. Using respectful communication can diffuse situations and help to avoid power battles.
Talking with, listening and supporting you child does not mean “letting them get away with things” or “spoiling” them. Mostly, respectful communication is simply allowing a child to feel heard and understood.
Here are a few short phrases which can help reflect respectful communication:
“I know it’s really hard to … (wait your turn/make a choice/finish your game/etc.)” – This sentence simpy shows that you are empathizing with your child, that you understand that something is difficult for them to do.
“You sound frustrated. You’d like to …. (read another book/stay at the park/etc) and it’s… (time for bed/time to go home/etc.)” In this sentence, you are telling your child are aware of their feelings, and acknowledging that there is something they want to do, but for some reason, they can’t.
“It looks like you’re having a hard time … (deciding/saying goodbye/getting ready for bed/etc). What can I do to help?” This time you are giving your child an opportunity to let you know what you can support them.
– “I’m here when you’re ready.” Sometimes, just letting your child know that you are there for them can be the ultimate support in helping them get through a difficult time. After a big meltdown, a child could feel concerned that the way you feel about them could have changed due to their big actions and even bigger feelings.
As a parent, it is your role to lead your child with confidence and to help your child can learn how to interact within their world. If you can remember to be calm, thoughtful and respectful you can help your child to get through those difficult times.