Just like that, we’ve entered the terrible twos. For months, our little Ari was just loving life and then suddenly everything became a catastrophe. It seems like the tantrums started overnight as soon as his birthday was behind us.
Right after Ari’s birthday party, his Daddy went away for a business trip. And the entire week was a struggle. “I NEEEEED that/cookie/ice cream/Sesame Street!” was my soundtrack all day long. Naps were fights. Getting dressed was a fight. More food was thrown on the floor than I can tolerate. And every time Ari had a meltdown, I got frustrated. He yelled, I yelled. He put his foot down, I put my foot down. It was a week-long power struggle. And to be honest, I was losing.
It took me about a week of getting frustrated with Ari’s meltdowns to realize he was not trying to give me a hard time, he was having a hard time. On the last day before Daddy came home, in the middle of a tearful screaming fit, I changed my approach, got down on the floor beside Ari and asked him if he was having a hard day. “Yeah,” he cried, “need a hug.”
Over the past week, he has been especially sensitive. Not always having a meltdown, but lots of tears. And my heart has both broken and exploded with pride when he has paused, in the middle of sobs, to say, “it’s okay to cry” or “it’s okay to be sad.” Yes it is, sweet sweet boy. When did he suddenly grow up?!
For example, look at this school photo that came home from daycare today – doesn’t he look like a miniature adult?
This article sums up my feelings perfectly. If you have a child who is having lots of big feelings, you might want to read it. If you don’t, you might still want to read it and substitute “child” for “boss”, “coworker” or “family member”. Even in raising a puppy, we learned about “trigger stacking” which basically means that even your dog can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and have a crappy day, and their resilience and tolerance to deal with stress gets worse and worse as the day goes on, and as triggers pile up one on top of the other.
Try to keep the perspective that if someone seems angry at you for no apparent reason, there may be other reasons totally unrelated to you. And maybe the best approach isn’t to get defensive (in fact, it probably isn’t) but to get down on their level and see if they need a hug. I’m not saying I don’t get frustrated anymore now that I’ve had this realization. I am human. But it has definitely helped.
“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.