(Un)Disciplining a Toddler Tyrant by Jenna Pennrose
I have come up to some challenges in my quest to never break my son’s spirit. Mine is not the type of kid who does stuff to make mama happy. Mine rages against the system. He is all kinds of oppositional and defiant, and is possibly classified as the most difficult type of toddler tyrant. He questions everything. He thinks deeply about everything. He finds every loophole. He is patient and circumspect in his arguments. I guess this is what you can expect from two parents who were both philosophy majors. Everything is a battle. Everything. He does not back down. He does not forget. He is a master negotiator. He breaks me down almost every single time…but I love that kid so much, and I am SO happy he is mine.
We have a good relationship with very little fighting. However, he is exceptionally hard to discipline. He tests me on everything, demands chocolate everyday, has had many, many, many, many meltdowns over the smallest of things such as putting on pants, not touching the stove, not climbing on the table ect. The biggest thing that I learned from this was that it is not about me controlling him, it is about letting my ego die and choosing my battles.
Here is my 4-step process that works the best with him when he starts to meltdown.
1. First and foremost, I get down to his physical level so we are eye to eye, (for example, on the floor).
2. Then I try to understand where he is coming from, and to empathize with his position, and narrate this out loud. For example, “I understand you really want to help mama cook mac and cheese right now, but you can’t because the stove is hot.” Toddlers often get more frustrated when they feel they are not understood.
3. I then mirror back his emotion, so he learns how to identify what he is feeling and express it verbally in a healthy way. For example, “I know you are feeling frustrated right now, that’s ok, just cry it out,.”
4. If I can keep a calm and loving tone the whole time, it just works like a charm.
When he is acting out, I ask myself, “is it dangerous?” or “does it hurt (or negatively affect) someone else?” If the answer is “no,” I let him explore. If the answer to either of those questions was “yes”, then I explain to him in a calm voice why he can’t do this, while trying to divert his attention to something else. He usually won’t back down that easy. It has often escalated to him negotiating and then crying, but I keep continuing to explain over and over why he cannot do it in a calm and loving voice. No matter how much he objects, I physically restrain him (from touching the stove, for example), explain why honestly and in a clam voice over and over, (“I know you are frustrated, but you cannot touch the stove because it is very hot and you will get burned.”), hug him and love him until he finally calms down.
As he gets older, he is more able to put himself in other’s shoes, and we will discuss in even more depth why he can and cannot do certain things. I want him to feel like I really have a good reason when I tell him “no”, and I want him to always understand what that reason is.
Jenna Pennrose is a writer, poet and lyricist born in Los Angeles, 1983. After a variety of destined experiences, she ended up with a BA in Philosophy and a MA in Anthropology, and acutely feeling the global consciousness shifting. She married an extraordinary man named Jesse on 11/11/11, with whom she hopes to evolve into the very best version of herself and with whom she has many missions to complete. They have a son (Milo) born in September of 2013 and a daughter (Maisy) born in June of 2016. Check out her website for more info on Ascension, energetic protection, parenting starseeds and indigos, pregnancy, birth, DIY recipes and the revolution of consciousness.