I have never really had the ‘terrible two’s’ that everyone warns about with my children. I love 2-year-old’s! They’re hilarious and oh so cute. I think I love every age though, each stage has something new and unique and I just love watching them develop. So far the hardest for me personally is when they turn three. Challenging for me and challenging for them. There are so many big emotions packed into that tiny body!
When my second daughter turned 3, I had forgotten what it was like, and that her sister was exactly the same just two years prior. I wondered what had happened to my sweet little girl, where I had gone wrong? I got more and more frustrated at her and at myself for not knowing what to do! Finally, my brain caught up and I remembered I had been here before, wondering the same things, and I had a beautiful 5-year-old who had made it through this stage very well.
I hate when at times I get stuck in a parenting rut, reacting to things in ways I don’t want to, getting frustrated at normal child behaviour. I’m not perfect and it happens to me the same as it does with anyone else. I know exactly how I want to parent but sometimes frustration and lack of sleep (I had a newborn!) can get in the way of that. So something had to be done! I wanted to stop reacting in the heat of the moment and instead take some time to calm down and think about what to do. So we came up with a codeword!
Firstly, I explained to my 3-year-old that I was really sorry for being so frustrated and sometimes getting angry, and that it was never her fault; I was just learning to deal with my big feelings too. I told her that it was ok to feel angry but not ok to let that anger hurt anyone else. Then I suggested that we come up with a codeword together that both of us could use whenever the other one was getting angry. It would remind us how much we loved each other and we would stop and have a cuddle to calm down before working out what to do about the problem. She immediately smiled and started thinking of what the word could be. We found the perfect one that was meaningful to us (which I can’t tell you because it’s our special word).
Using the codeword has been so effective! If we are disagreeing and I am getting frustrated she will run up to me and say it and give me a cuddle. It snaps me out of it straight away, I apologize, and we can both talk calmly about the situation. When she is yelling and having trouble hearing me, I can use the codeword and she will give me a cuddle until she calms down instead. And of course, the more we practice and respond calmly, the less we are having to use our codeword now.
It was such an easy thing to do which has been so effective for us, maybe is will be helpful for you too!