The Toddler Dudes turned one on March 11. Approximately 2 weeks later, we had not babies, but TODDLERS. I don’t mean that they started walking; they’ve been doing that since 10 1/2 months, which was
kind of horrifying fantastic because parents of twins always hope for early walkers. :-/ But moving on, when I say they became toddlers, I’m talking throw-yourself on the floor, pound your little baby fists, cry when you’re picked up, cry when you’re put down, start wrenching your body in an attempt to escape when you realize it’s bed time, cry when your brother walks near your toy, cry when the dog looks at you, get hugs from mama in between all of these steps and cry louder if she is not able to oblige you right this instant or if she dares to instead pickup the brother that you have just knocked over.
Our lead teacher at daycare best described this little metamorphosis by noting they were becoming very “emotional.” That was both incredibly accurate and completely an understatement. I still have a teeny tiny bit of hope that it’s somehow just a really horrific molar coming in or something, but the more days that pass of living with our “emotional” little boys, the more I’m having to come to terms with the idea that my little over-achievers decided to hit the Terrible Twos at one. Super.
I knew that the fits and such could start early, but I’ll be honest: it was no where on my radar at 12 months. Frankly, I feel very unequipped to handle this phase. The tools I’m most familiar with don’t seem to be something that would work at this young age. When I was teaching, I found that giving meaningful choices worked quite well. Unfortunately, the boys don’t have the language for this to work well. They show very little receptive language, so I don’t think they would understand the choice in the first place and they have maybe 3 words each at best, so they couldn’t communicate their choice well even if they understood the options. We do voice a choice sometimes, just so they start hearing the idea and we’ll often hold up two shirts to “choose” which one to wear, which we decipher as whichever one they grab for. Another thing we’ve tried is using Tina’s No. It doesn’t seem to help a ton at this age, but I do think that maybe they can at least sense the tone and sympathy and I suspect in a few more months this will be very effective.
The one thing we’ve had moderate success with in a few situations is narrating what we’re about to do while emphasizing words they might be starting to understand, and using tones that will build excitement, calm, etc. depending on what we’re attempting. Our hope was that maybe it will help with transitions even if they don’t understand everything we say. For instance, right now they really, really hate getting in their car seats. Before we leave, we might say something like this:
“Go? You want to go? YAY! It’s so much fun to GO in the car! To the CAR. Let’s walk to the car so you can get in your SEAT and GO! That’s right. In your SEAT. We love to get in our SEAT and GOO! Good job getting in your seat. High Five?”
I’m not sure if they’re just distracted by our babbling or if they’re understanding more than we think, but this has been the most successful thing we’ve tried so far. Baby tantrums and emotional outbursts just seem generally impossible to tackle at this age, and the idea that this may go on for another 2 years has me near tears. I know that this too shall pass. I just hope it passes quickly!
Anyone else have a baby who started throwing fits early? What’s your best tip for parenting “emotional” babies/toddlers?