Emotions, when uncontrolled, are so frustrating. And Ethan, with toddlerhood in all it’s glory, is getting better at the control. But sometimes, it’s hard.
This face isn’t very common. But it happens every so often. It’s not just a whine, or a protest, or even overtired. It’s full out tantrum — immobile — nothing gets him out — he just works through it for 20min or more on his own. He yells. Yells and yells. It’s hard.
It’s really hard getting him out of this. And we’ve done the laundry list of optional responses — immediate consequences, tough love, “hug it out”, logical, ignoring, engaging, tickling, putting him in the shower fully dressed (ok, I only did that once)…..you ask, we’ve tried it. These tantrums are few and far now (probably less than once a month). But when it happens, we’re completely helpless. He’s STUCK in this moment and nothing but time seems to help.
He seems so out of control, but we think it’s because he FEELS out of control. His thriving on order and routine has likely been disrupted for whatever reason and it’s like his brain goes on overdrive and can’t process the changes.
This may happen 20 times a day on a mini-level, but he usually will respond to redirection, or logic, or cause/effect, or timeout/timein consequences. In fact we can see him take deep breathes, to cut the whining and ask respectfully, to consider other options — and hope glimmers. In fact, the moments when we see him CHOOSE control, we are so proud to see him acknowledge how we can respond lovingly and respectfully. Even when he has the little moments he can’t control, those moments aren’t too tiring.
But these. These big moments are really hard. We totally make it up as we go. We are thankful he has a strong will for it’ll serve him well in the future with peer-pressure and functioning as an adult. We are glad he is driven not swayed easily because it will allow him to push through hard times. He understands the concept of hard work and doesn’t shy away from it. But as a toddler, these traits are hard to grasp, and even more difficult to reign some amount of control. So we do the best we can to enable him to process his emotions.
“It’s OK Ethan. You’re safe. I love you. I’m sorry you’re frustrated. I’m frustrated too. But you’re safe. You’re safe”.
The irony in all of this, is that ME — as an adult — TOTALLY struggles to control my own response to his emotions. My gut reaction isn’t usually the healthy one. Sometimes it is. But not always. And that is humbling and more than a little ironic given I’m frustrated that my three year old isn’t doing what I’m failing to do as an adult. Ha.
So I kinda feel like we are in this together. You and us buddy. We’ve got this! We’re safe together. Loved. And forever family.
And it’s not just him. This little girl has her moments…..separation anxiety. bless.
So everything is a stage. For good or bad, this too will pass.
(oh, and I found these photos I forgot about from last week. You love airplanes. It’s beautiful. I love that you love to play.)
So. We carry on!!!