Adjustment

Looking at a cattle marketLife can be tough when you’re three.

Things don’t always make sense. You sort of understand, but there are murky bits that don’t fit together. You think you know everything and you want to do it all by yourself, but you can’t. Not yet.

Frog is going through what I believe parenting experts call a “challenging phase”. Relocating to an entirely new area (even if it is one she loves), coupled with her already strong sense of independence and “switched on” attitude, is proving a little tricky. 

It would be easy to write this blog and articles elsewhere, offering a rosy view of life. I could stick to talking about the wonderful family days out, funny things my child says and nice products I want to buy. But that wouldn’t paint a true picture of our life.

As my little diva grows, I’m aware of the need to strike a sense of balance between protecting my three year old’s privacy and not just showing the good stuff.

So. We have moved to a beautiful part of the world. We wake in the morning to views of fields and sunlit valleys. It’s all very picturesque and peaceful. There are a million and one places to explore and days out to be had. Yet, the last couple of days have been difficult.

Of course they have; moving is never easy. Even though we have moved somewhere that my child loves, her behaviour is proof that she is still getting used to the idea that this is her home. Tantrums are part and parcel of being three, I suspect. But, as vocal as Frog is, tantrums every ten minutes are extreme even for her.

I have never heard the word, “NO!” shouted so frequently and so loudly as I have the past few days. A slight hint of things not going her way results in screams of frustration, a red face, tears and sometimes lashing out at the nearest toy or – a couple of times – me.

It’s a physically exhausting business at the best of times, let alone when you’re living amongst boxes and still striving to meet work deadlines. All my instincts tell me this is a phase, an inevitable result of turning my three year old’s life upside down, something we will ride out together. But, in the heat of tantrum battle, that reasoning isn’t always easy to remember.

For the first time ever, we have had to sit down and discuss a proper “approach” to the issue. The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine and I have never had an “approach” type of attitude to parenting. Indeed, we both flinch at the term “parenting”, preferring to think of the act of being parents as part of life. Basically, we live life, we muddle along through, we don’t read any “manuals” and prefer to act on instinct.

This time, however, we have had to agree that our instinct needs to be channelled into a “plan”. So we have a reward chart, lots of praise at the ready, some lovely things planned for family days, along with the readiness to take toys away for behaviour that just won’t do. Plus, the dreaded naughty step in times of crisis.

I’m all for listening to my child and being patient. I try to see things from her point of view as much as possible. But I also know that my little girl thrives with clear boundaries and consistency. I’m no parenting guru. I don’t always have the answers to how to deal with difficult situations, but I still think that, in this case, my instinct is right.

In fact, this is a strange post to find myself writing, because I rarely write about “approaches” and techniques etc. To be honest, I find it all a bit boring and introspective.

Easy to dismiss it all though, when you don’t need it. Today, I need all the approaches and techniques that I can get.

What would you do?

 

Comments

  1. Kate W says

    My Molly was pretty much the EXACT same age as Frog when we moved here and did this exact same thing so, firstly, remember that you are NOT alone in this!!!

    My Molly is a drama queen, always has been, so we had to take the “Tough love” approach with her – when empathising and reward charts failed, we resorted to taking toys away, denying her trips out or being able to go to Parties etc…..

    We felt AWFUL but they do have to learn that there comes a point where it stops being a tantrum due to being unsettled and unhappy about change and simply is being EVIL (in my Mollys case anyway!!!)

    If you can stay calm and attempt to reason with her (even if you send her to the naughty step in the process), this phase will soon pass and your happy go lucky frog will be back before you know it!!!

    • says

      It’s good to hear from others who’ve been through it – and come out the other side. Must be something about people called Molly… I am a drama queen too!

  2. Sophie says

    Loving to hear about your big move and exciting times!

    You know what’s best.. Mothers always right :)

    Xx

    • says

      Hi Molly,

      My 2 are now teenagers and my husband retired from the Navy, but we moved many times. Our son is Autistic so I understand the importance of consistency, but moving doesn’t always allow for it. I would start by keeping the favorite stuffed animal/toy and blanket nearby. Naps are difficult to maintain with the hustle and bustle of a move, but packing up meals/snacks which are part of the normal diet will help fuel routine.

      Once you do move, try to unpack your child’s room first. This will give her a place to nap and surround herself with her things. It also frees you up to unpack everything else to make the new place home.

      Best wishes,
      Mindi

      • says

        Thank you for the great advice. We’re all in now and her room was the first one we unpacked. I think it made a big difference to have her things around her – even though the rest of the house was in disarray! Thanks for the words of wisdom, we’ll probably be moving again within the year so I will keep this in mind for the next time too!

  3. Emma says

    Love and consistency is the key!

    The Deputy Head teacher walked into my rrom today and told me I was the only class that was still ‘working’. My 30 over heated children were perfectly behaved all day and it was because I hadn’t abandoned the timetable.

    They know where they stand and I had a much calmer day than some of my stressed collegues who were dying from heat exhaustion and dealing with squabbles because the kids don’t know how to handle that much freedom.

    X Good Luck and I am sure I will ‘adjust’ my views when I am a proper parent and not the care taker of 30 X

    • says

      Oof, I would probably be the teacher at the end of the corridor with frazzled kids! Well done for staying sane teaching in this weather!

  4. says

    Hey lovely.
    I’m hearing you! We are right in the middle of our move.
    I feel that Ramona is feeling incredibly powerless right now and it has meant tantrum city when normally we’d only see one a day max.
    Tonight I decided that we need to play more games where she feels the power. Where she can decide what to do.
    Personally, I think that kids need to know that we are on their side and I don’t think punitive parenting does this.
    Just in case you want some resources that offer alternative to time out etc, do check out Playful Parenting by Cohen, and the classic, How to Talk so Kids Listen.
    Sorry if I’ve mentioned them before. I LOVE them!
    Xx

    • says

      Thank you! I think I’m probably somewhere in the middle in terms of the way I approach the whole tantrum thing. There are times when I think F needs to know that her behaviour isn’t OK, and attempting to reason with her or divert her attention just doesn’t help. Ironically, we’ve noticed a bit of a change in her this afternoon in that she seems calmer. I don’t think the heat helps either! Hope your move goes well – such an adventure! xx

  5. says

    Hey Molly, We moved three times during the last 15 months. I’ll send you the T-shirt. And your instincts are good ones; she wants to know where ‘the edges’ are and is pressing you to show them to her. Your plans suggest that that is exactly what you’re going to do. It is hard. Harder than hard. But you’ll get there…. x

  6. says

    We do 123 Magic. There aren’t often punishments, just calm counting to remind the kids that they are behaving in a way that we’ve previously agreed is unnaccepatble. If they get to a 3, they go to their room for a time out. Importantly it’s not a punishment, it’s time alone to calm down. If necessary we would hold their door shut until they calmed down. Then out they come, and we move on. No lectures, no punishments, no need to aplogise (unless they have hurt someone or broken something). It doesn’t work all the time, but it makes for a much calmer house, and it’s surprising how often they stop before you get to 3. Good luck x

    • says

      That sounds like a good approach, thank you. If anything, it’s just interesting to hear how others deal with that kind of behaviour. All families are so different aren’t they? x

    • says

      I’m remembering! Funny how “phases” always feel like forever when you’re in them, but once they past you forget almost instantly!

  7. says

    We also had to sit down and discuss out approach to Iyla’s change in behaviour after Jobey was born. I haven’t been reading books either and prefer to trust my instincts, at one stage though it was hard as Iyla was really hurting Jobey and we couldn’t not do anything. We decided to put her in the kitchen for two mins on her own then asked her to say sorry. That stage has passed and she only occasionally does it now but whenever she does we put her in the kitchen again. It’s hard as I know the behaviour was only because he was struggling with his arrival but she could be so vicious that we had to do something. Toddlers are hard work! x

    • says

      It’s really hard isn’t it? They’re so little, yet kind of understand. And I really don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer – every kid is different and every parent is too. We’re just trying to do what works for us and hope for the best. x

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