Photography by Briana Lindsey Photography
I'll be the first person to admit that when Ava gets frustrated, I get frustrated. And my outward frustration with her makes her even more upset which makes me want to pull my hair out. And when that happens, it seems like there's nothing I can do or say that'll calm her down....I think you see where this is going. It's basically the definition of the snowball effect and when it happens, there's no turning back.
My day is a bust.
A couple months back, I read this quote and it really hit me like a ton of bricks:
"When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it's our job to share our calm, not join their chaos." -- LR Knost
Let's just say, I want to super glue this quote to my head as an every day reminder for myself. Because at some point or another, every single day, Ava gets frustrated about something. And I get frustrated about her frustration.
She can't fit a huge ball into a tiny little space or I refuse to nurse her for the 1734th time that day or Baxter lays on her blanket and it's basically the end of the world. You know, typical frustrating toddler stuff. But all of this "stuff" is real to her. It's real life. They're real frustrations and they're real reasons for her to get upset because she just doesn't know any better. And hey, when all you do all day is play and eat and snuggle, you'd better bet that little things like that may seem like the end of the world.
But you see, that snowball effect comes down to one person and one person only:
I can either join in her frustration and get upset and yell and get mad and get frustrated myself, or I can stay calm and show her that it's okay. I can help her through it and talk her through the why and help with the how and the what and every aspect of her frustration while staying calm.
And that's the type of mom I aspire to be.
So I've been trying this out but I've been trying it out before she actually gets upset and it's made a world of a difference in our home.
For example, every night before it's time for bed, I nurse Ava, give her a big hug and a kiss and hand her off to her dad to take her to her to bed. And every night, she'd scream and cry and kick and yell. And I don't blame her. She was being pulled away from her mama, pulled away from nursing, and pulled away from playing. And that was frustrating to her.
So instead of just letting it be and trying to ignore all of that screaming and crying, we tried something different…
I nurse Ava, I give her a big hug and a kiss, and then I tell her that she is such a good girl. I tell her she's a big girl and I say over and over that she such a good girl for going to bed. She repeats the words, "good girl" over and over and over and I continue to say it with a smile and in a calm state.
And guess what? She believes it.
I hand her off to her dad, continuing to tell her how much of a good girl she is for going to bed, smiling at her, blowing kisses her way, and keeping a sense of calm on my face. And I'm not going to lie and tell you it works every time, but for the most part it has worked like a charm and has been just the proof I needed to show myself that keeping calm does, in fact, play a role in how Ava is growing up. Sharing my calm with Ava is the best tip for dealing with toddler tantrums and sharing my calm with her is the best way to keep our home a positive one.
I want Ava to live in a positive home, a calm home, but also a home where she knows that when she is frustrated, I will be there to help. I will be there to bring her back to the calm she needs instead of joining in her chaos.
And I know, easier said than done.