Tag Archives: toddler behaviour

Boys will be boys

I read an interesting article recently on essential baby, written from the perspective of a father (who was raised by two matriarchs) dealing will the testosterone filled behaviour of his two sons. It’s a good read. It got me thinking and reminiscing.

I remember vividly, visiting a friend who had four children, the youngest of whom was a two year old boy. While we were sitting in the lounge room chatting and calmly sipping our tea, her son was busy building towers out of blocks, which he abandoned to play with some other toy nearby. Suddenly, he came running up with a bat of some sort, yelling like something akin to “George of the jungle” on steroids, and knocked the tower over, causing a cacophony of blocks to go flying across the room. My friend didn’t even flinch. Her response was “he’s not hurting anyone, sometimes you just have to let them be boys”. I was more than shocked. Wasn’t she going to reprimand him? At the time I put it down to her being so tired from having four children that she couldn’t face disciplining him for this behaviour.

How the tables turn. Now I have a two year old son and I totally understand what she meant. My son has a game that he plays only with his dad. He only tried playing it with me once, but as I was not thrilled about being included and obviously wasn’t as fun, it is now just their game. It is called “joewoe”. Basically it involves a run up and crash tackle hug of his dad who is sitting on the floor, whilst yelling at the top of his voice, a phrase concocted by my son – “joewoe!!!!”. We have no idea what the word means, apart from “get ready, I’m coming to get you”. It is full on. I have to be ejudicator to make sure no one gets hurt (which is inevitable of course). It is special that he has his dad who can fill that need of being rough and playing stax on. It really is a boy thing I think.

When i thought about my future children I never really imagined whether I would have boys or girls. I guess I didn’t really care. So, I never really thought specifically about what it would be like to raise a boy. My boy is very loud and active. He loves dirt and trucks and balls. None of which has been a result of my particular prompting or persuading or encouraging. I just as equally offer dolls with prams to play with, and he does sometimes occupy himself with them for a few minutes, but he just prefers cars and mechanical things. He loves building towers and knocking them down. He loves standing on the fence watching the garbage trucks come and go past our house (we live opposite their depot). He is also obsessed with drawing, colouring and painting, which are not specifically boy orientated things. He is a creative, flamboyant, determined little soul and I want to nurture that.

I have quite a few friends who have two sons each, all of whom are at different stages in their life. Some are little babies, some children and some becoming adults. I enjoy seeing how the different family units work. I look on with giggling and anxiousness at the farting, wrestling, sporting competitiveness of the brothers. I watch with solidarity, quietly observing the brave mothers’ harrangueing their boys and trying to learn how to balance discipline and fun. Sometimes they seem more like referees than mums. It’s a hard game. I’m glad I have the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

I hope I can impart some skills to my boys that many men are lacking. Things such as being emotionally available, listening actively and being helpful around the house. I also hope they can help me grow and learn how to let go, be active and enjoy life to it’s boy-sterous fullness. So for now, I take a deep breath and strap myself in for the ride of raising two (maybe more??) deliciously gorgeous boys.

Taming tantruming toddlers

Let me start by declaring that I definitely do NOT have all the answers. I’m only just starting to explore this developmental phenomenon. My main experience (besides babysitting as a teen, and seeing other friend’s children) is with my 22 month old son who has hit the fabled and formidable “terrible two’s” early.

As you are probably aware, if you have been reading my previous posts, I gave birth to my second son 8 weeks ago. Since that time my toddler has definitely upped the anti on the tantruming front. Not to say he was perfectly behaved before, but HIS way of adjusting to his whole world changing, has manifested itself in an amplifying of his previous tantrums. He is not directly jealous, for which I am very thankful. He hasn’t yet tried deliberately to hurt his brother. He kills him with kindness. “Kiss top head” are his three favourite words.

The tantrums happen mostly when I am unable to give him the attention he wants, within his time frame. The most common times this happens is when I’m breastfeeding or cooking or when the baby is unsettled and needs to be held (so pretty much all the time). If he wants to show me something or for me to do something with or for him and I am unable to fulfill his request straight away, he gets frustrated. We are working on learning the phrase “wait a minute please”, and although he can say it, he doesn’t quite understand the concept. But who am I kidding? It takes a lifetime to understand the concept of waiting and being patient. I’m certainly not there yet.

I’ve been told by many people that my toddler’s language skills are beyond that of most children his age, especially boys. He speaks very well, with the ability to join several words together and repeat almost anything you say. His receptive language (so my primary school teacher mum calls it) is also brilliant. He can follow more than one instruction at a time and really only needs to be taught a word once before he can say it and connect it to the correct object. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but to illustrate that he does understand what I’m saying and I mostly understand what he’s saying. This clarifies to me that, at least with him, the tantrums are not about miscommunication or misunderstanding. Though I’m sure this is a possible causative factor for some.

When he gets frustrated a cascade of behaviours and feelings follow. First he is impatient, then unhappy, then upset, then angry, then defiant. I try to intervene at the different stages by using distraction techniques or a reward system. When he reaches the last stage and I discipline him for his defiance, that is when the tantrums begin. When he is in the middle of a tantrum, I find that telling him to stop that behaviour and then ignoring him is the best option. He stops quicker if he isn’t getting the attention he wants. If we are in public and I cant just walk away, I speak very quietly, whilst kneeling down to his level and tell him what I want him to do. I also usually offer him food.

I have an iPhone. I have noticed that I spend a lot of time on my phone. Whether it is messaging, facebook, internet or email. I have found myself getting annoyed at my sons for interrupting me on my phone. How ridiculous! A few weeks ago I woke up to myself and realised that my children are infinitely more important than anything I could be doing on my phone. So that has reduced my son’s attention seeking behaviour, because he does not have to seek for my full attention, I give it to him readily when I am able. I challenge you to assess your situation and if there is anything you are doing that is unnecessarily taking your attention, which should be given freely to your children.

After saying all this, I do not want you to think I have an awful child. And I want you to remember that your child is not awful either. Most of the time he is excellent and fun to be around. I hope some of the techniques I have used can help people learn how to deal with their children when they are misbehaving. Remember, we all make mistakes and they aren’t even really mistakes, they are learning opportunities!

My often happy boy