Sometimes, my toddler is an asshole! There, I said it!
But most times, he’s genuinely the greatest, sweetest, most sensitive, and happiest boy in the world! So what the eff is up with those times when he’s throwing a temper tantrum because you closed the door and HE wanted to be the one who closed the door?
And when I say temper tantrum, I mean kicking, punching (he’s got a mean right hook), screaming, crying, not listening, looking you direct in the eye and doing the exact opposite of what you’re saying, just completely ignoring you freak out. OR simply put, acting like an asshole.
When he’s being himself, my toddler is the type of kid who will go and randomly pick a toy for his 10-month-old brother and give it to him because he’s crying, to try and make him feel better. He says hi and bye to everyone, or “what’s your name?”, everywhere we go, because he actually means it and wants to know you. And he’s also so sweet and sensitive that he needs to give me at least three hugs and kisses before I leave for work, every night. He really has the most kind and caring and sensitive heart, so again, what the eff is going on when he’s the complete opposite?
Temper tantrums are going to happen, no matter how good of a parent you are, or think you are. It’s just the way of the toddler. So, why do they happen and how can you deal with them?
I’ve learned a lot in the last 18 months about the how’s and why’s of temper tantrums, and they seem to happen for a few reasons:
- He’s frustrated with his limited abilities to express how he’s feeling and communicate with his words
- The 100% need to assert his independence
- Not feeling like he is in control of the situation (this is a big one in our house hold!)
- He’s hungry, tired, over stimulated and/or bored (this one could also be applied to me 95% of the time!)
Here’s a few ways I’ve learned to avoid dealing with an asshole toddler:
- Play to your toddler’s personality. Some of these little minds and bodies need to be on as regular of a schedule as possible. Having regular meal times, nap times, and bed times gives them a feeling of being in control and comforted. They know what is coming and what to expect. And for others, if you do this, it will stress them out. Let them be a bit more spontaneous. You’ll have to learn which side you need to play to as your little one gets older.
- Don’t let your toddler get tired, hungry, over stimulated or bored. This seems straight forward, but it can be a sneaky one that happens if you’re not careful.
- Provide choice whenever possible. Being able to make decisions (“Do you want to eat cereal or yogurt this morning?”) helps a toddler feel more in control. This one is huge for our little guy!
I’m still learning on how to deal with asshole mode, but here’s a few things I’ve tried that have worked.
- Make the asshole laugh! The old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is 100% applicable here. Silly little things can make toddlers laugh, so make a bit of an ass of yourself to try and get them to crack a smile and forget why they’re losing their mind.
- Stay relaxed, and speak softly. Freaking out and yelling back is just going to make things worse! It may be your gut reaction, but resist. You cannot out yell a screaming toddler. Talk in a low, calm voice, and try to be rational. If you can’t get this to work right away, it probably won’t work.
- Don’t give in! Whatever Mr. Hyde is freaking out about, do not give in and give it to him. If he wants a cookie, make sure you stick to your guns, and in a calm repetitive manner, repeat “We don’t eat cookies before dinner. We don’t eat cookies before dinner.” If you give in, he will think that when he freaks out, he will get what he wants and you’ll see more of Mr. Hyde and less of Dr. Jekyll. If you stick to your guns, he will learn that
To clarify, I don’t actually think my toddler is an asshole, but I do think kids between the ages of 18 months and 4 years old are going through so much, that we as parents have to try and learn how to deal with the metaphorical Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, at the drop of a hat. I’m not saying that everything above here is gospel, but they are some tips and tricks that have worked for us over the last year, and I honestly think we have one of the strongest willed, minded and hearted kids I’ve ever met.