Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Some days I wish I was a better mother

I'm at my wits end. I'm not sure if it's because he's two, or because I'm seven months pregnant, but everything has been a battle lately.

He doesn't want to change his diaper.

He doesn't want to wear either of those shirts.

He doesn't want to get undressed for swimming class.

He doesn't want to put on a jacket.

He doesn't want to sit in his chair for lunch.

He doesn't want to get in the car.

Sigh. And the list goes on and on.

I know each of these things sounds relatively minor. But each "doesn't want to" results in an epic battle: parent (setting the limit) vs. toddler (pushing the boundaries). Some things I'm learning to loosen up on (Do I really care whether he wants to wear his blue and brown sweater for the the third consecutive day? Probably not.) But other things are non-negotiable (Sorry, but we need to wear a swimsuit for swim lessons).

Ben and I try to be super consistent. We offer choices. We let him know what's coming up next so he'll feel prepared. We provide clear and simple instructions. We listen and empathize with his emotions. We follow-through with reasonable consequences when his behavior doesn't meet expectations.

And yet, he's pushing limits (and buttons) day in and day out. Our days are peppered with tantrums and tears (from both of us). I'm frustrated. And exhausted. So I can't help but wonder...

Am I failing him in some way?

I read books and blogs about the ways to guide more cooperative toddler behavior. Limits, choices, consistency, etc. We're doing everything we can to provide firm and loving guidance. And yet, here we are.

I find myself wondering... is this his personality? A phase? Something we're doing or not doing? I struggle with saying "he's just two" as we know plenty of two and three year olds who manage to listen, cooperate and peacefully co-exist with their parents.

I'm at a loss. Right now our plan is to stay the course (clear direction, consistent limits, reasonable consequences) and hope something clicks in his cute little brain. But if you have any other suggestions, I'm listening.

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