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Toddler meltdowns all around

We’ve entered it. The toddler zone.  


Coraline is three at the end of March, and man, we skipped right past the Terrible Twos into the Temperamental Threes. (She’s a late bloomer, just like her mama.) 


Today, this kid lost her mind because she didn’t want to go for a walk, but she also didn’t want me to go for a walk, but she didn’t want to not go for a walk, and she definitely didn’t want me to go on a walk without her.  


I followed her logic 0%. 


She ended up coming along, much to her dismay, and fell asleep with her mouth open in the stroller about seven minutes later. We all know a tired toddler when we see one.  


She’s been early or on-time with some stuff, like potty training and counting. Behind with others, like using silverware or dressing herself. Then again, all kids are SO different, what even is “early” or “behind?” She’ll get there when she gets there. 


Back to this toddlering she’s doing. Coraline is having emotional breakdowns every two seconds about things that truly do not matter. I literally will look around, like the answers for this behavior are somewhere in the air.  


They are not. Just an FYI. 


I am a gentle parent. A responsive parent. A parent who does not lose it. Whatever that type of parent is called. I will calmly explain to her what’s happening, and why it’s happening.  


“Coraline, I totally understand that you do not want to go for a walk and that you do not want me to go for a walk. However, I am definitely going for a walk. This means you have two choices. One, you can come with me. Two, you can stay home. That’s up to you. But no amount of tears will stop me from going for a walk.” 


Until these last few weeks, we didn’t have any meltdowns. I truly believe it’s because I prepped Coraline for everything. I call it “Managed Expectations,” but I’m sure some psychologist somewhere has a better name for it. I would obnoxiously tell her about what was coming up and why it was going to be happening. 


The issue is this: the things she’s losing her mind over now – there is no logical or rational reason for it. So I can’t possibly know how to manage her expectations. Instead, I have to over-explain after the fact, and that’s not working super great.  


Here are the few things that I have learned in my short tenure as the mother of a real emotionally unstable person: 

  1. Value hugs. Hugs have been really helpful when she’s spinning.
  2. Value space. Space is a close second because sometimes she’s too mad for that hug.
  3. Keep cool. It doesn’t help anything when you get worked up, too. I honestly have repeated more times than once “Dude, you’re the parent. You’re the adult. Act like it. It’s cool.”
  4. If all else fails, lay on the floor with her. After a few minutes, she may even reach out for my hand. 

I keep reminding myself that this little human is exactly that, a little human. She has her own wants, preferences and needs. Sometimes, she wants me to sing her to sleep. Other times, she wants quiet and snuggles. Sometimes, I want her to cuddle me nonstop. Other times, I don’t want her to touch me at all.  


We are the same. We are both people with different preferences.  


Though I will never understand her meltdowns about going on a walk. 


Because seriously, it made zero sense. 


Bitsy McCann
Bitsy McCann owns a boutique graphic design firm in Harrisburg, PA, performs original music all around Central PA, officiates one-of-a-kind weddings, and spends most of her free time obsessing over her husband and toddler. She would absolutely welcome your thoughts and commentary - send her a message on either LinkedIn or Facebook

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