Wednesday, April 24, 2019

3 Reflective Questions for Toddler Meltdown

Anyone who has had children knows that the toddler years can be an extremely trying time. Toddlers can literally go from being cute to meltdown mode in 2 seconds. It can leave you a bit exhausted trying to figure out what just happened.

My older 2 children were truly easy going. They were content to just go with the flow. My oldest daughter, although strong willed and independent, didn't have meltdowns or throw temper tantrums. The term terrible 2 was foreign to me. I obviously didn't know what I was missing. It's true, ignorance is bliss!(please note the sarcasm)

Now my youngest daughter has truly broken the mold and is taking me down a path that I have never traveled. I seriously found myself at a loss until I started tracking her meltdowns.

One day I realized that she was having a meltdown or being unreasonable at pretty much the same time everyday. To see if there was truly a pattern, I started monitoring her day by writing down times that she had a meltdown or was being unreasonable. I also monitored sleep, eating and activity times.

Don't get me wrong, toddlers are notorious for having the attention span of a gnat and the temper tantrum power to bring down a building, but because this was all new to me I thought I was doing something wrong.

After monitoring her days for a couple of weeks, I noticed some patterns. It helped me to develop these three questions if she was being unreasonable or having an unwarranted meltdown.

These questions may seen like no-brainers but when you are dealing with a toddler meltdown it's not always easy to remember the obvious.

This definition is spot on
1. Is she tired?
I noticed that if she was overtired, she was super hyper, made really bad choices and pretty much just naughty. Contrary to popular belief not every child that doesn't take a nap will "sleep well that night". She was actually over stimulated and just couldn't calm down.

I treated her sleep like the holy grail. I made sure that nothing interrupted her nap time or bed time.

Now she doesn't nap but we still have quiet time and it seems to help her shift into a lower gear.

2. Is she hungry?
I don't know about you but if I'm hungry I'm just not a nice person. My toddler is the same way, not because she's my daughter but because she's human. Her blood sugar is low and she needs either a snack or a meal to get it back up.

She doesn't have the understanding to tell me what she's feeling so she acts out. Usually if I give her a snack, she settles right down and is able to regulate her behavior a little better.

3. Is she needing some activity?
My daughter wakes up on GO! She seriously doesn't take a breath before she is already running around the house. The worse part is it's usually around 6:30. (Can I get an AMEN for coffee?)

If I jump right into school with her older sister after breakfast and haven't given her some outside time and let her run off some energy, we won't get anything done. She'll interrupt and be super mischievous.

I've realized that giving her physical activity is a major part of getting her to listen. If she's tired, she's less likely to fight back.

I hate to compare a toddler to training a puppy but seriously it's pretty much the same strategy. If I want my dog to train well I take her for a walk and wear her out before I try to train her. I also use positive reinforcement when she makes a right choice.

By asking myself these three questions before I react to any unwanted behavior I am able to see if she is really asking for help in her own way.

I can pretty much say that these three questions have saved my sanity (the little I have left). Now if I can just figure out how to get her to listen when I say no, I guess that'll be another post.

Toddlers can try your patience one second and melt your heart the next. It's all part of their growing pains. Stay strong! You can do it!

I'm praying for you!

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