All parents reading this will know that at times in your parenting journey, certain phrases become akin to mantras as you struggle through a challenging phase. Whether it be something you tell yourself or partner (this too shall pass, your child is your mirror…etc) or something that you tell your children, it’s easy to liken yourself to a broken record as you trot out the same old tired pep talks to an increasingly uninterested audience. For us, currently it is reminding the big two that Elijah hasn’t yet developed impulse control.
Having just turned two, he is doing what all toddlers do…smashing down towers newly built by older siblings, biting when rough play gets too exciting and generally trying to include himself in everything going on around him without any care or caution. When there are no older siblings, this phase is generally easier to manage. But when you have a lego mad 5 year old who keeps getting his creations kicked apart or a 7 year old suffering a tiny terror walking through the midst of her beloved card games, it can be a bit of a struggle to maintain the peace. A common shout in our house at the moment is ‘Muuuuuuuum!!! Elijah just….insert random act of destruction’ usually shortly followed by Eli bursting into tears as his older sibling reprimands or tries to stop him.
Obviously I try to stay nearby to manage situations pre-emptively but often, that is simply not practical or possible. Instead, I find myself comforting a wailing toddler whilst trying to simultaneously explain to him why his brother and sister shouted at him and to said aggrieved party that he didn’t do it maliciously but doesn’t yet have the impulse control to resist the urge to disrupt their play so physically. When Sophia was around the same age and doing a similar thing, I remember tearing my hair out wondering why my lovely little girl was behaving in such a manner. I tried all sorts of parenting techniques to curb the behaviour before someone pointed me in the direction of some well researched articles explaining that the area of our brain that manages our impulses doesn’t develop fully until we reach an older age.
It was like a lightbulb moment. This is not naughty or deliberately mean behaviour. It is age appropriate, innocent and most importantly, temporary! Of course I think it is still important to explain to the mischievous toe rag why their actions are undesirable but I’m not going to punish a 2 year old for something they can’t help. Of course this is not of much comfort to Sophia and Isaac as they endure his exuberance but we have developed strategies such as decoy towers or simply playing in a separate, enclosed space from him. Luckily, this unwanted and often trying behaviour is balanced out and more than made up for by his deep belly laughs and overflowing affection at the moment, epitome of cute he is! How about all of you parents out there, are you going through a challenging phase with your little ones at the moment? How are you managing it? I would love to hear from you!