The Toddler Tantrum

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If you haven’t seen my latest FB post, please hop over to either feel like you aren’t alone or to get a good chuckle.

Parenting toddlers is H.A.R.D. There should really be a warning before you bring the baby home from the hospital. (WARNING: If you can get through 1-3 hour sleeping increments, feedings every 2 hours, 12-20 diapers a day, 2-5 outfit changes for baby, 2-5 outfit changes for you, they turn into toddlers and it could get worse!)
Join me on this probably very familiar scene in our house this morning. J (my 3 year old) wanted a firetruck shirt. The obsession is on the verge of insane asylum evaluation status. He is obsessed with all things firetrucks and firefighters. If you combine his other obsession, yellow, then the world is close to apocalyptic scenarios.
Today he woke up with the idea that he wanted NEEDED to wear a firetruck shirt. He has quite the collection of them so normally it isn’t much of an issue. As I peeled off his firetruck pjs, he insisted on a firetruck shirt and that just wasn’t an option. We are approaching laundry day in our house and you might as well tell J it’s the end of the world because that’s what it felt and looked like. The firetruck shirts are the first to be worn, leaving no option for the second half of the week. I showed him the variety of shirts he was able to choose from: yellow shirts, truck shirts, favorite character shirts, nothing was a firetruck shirt and nothing was cutting it.
Cue full mental breakdown. It included throwing every shirt being offered. Throwing oneself on the ground. Kicking. Rolling over and pulling at the carpet in a desperate attempt make a new firetruck shirt out of it. And this was all before 7:30am. Hello Wednesday, it’s been real!
Of course, there are plenty of parents out there who have similar, funnier, more pathetic reasons why their kiddo is now mopping the floor with their body. “The wind is blowing in the wrong direction.” “I didn’t let him drink from the dog’s water dish.” “The current TV show has ended.”
If you need some future evidence that these little people living in our house are a little unstable, head over to Buzz Feed to see other depictions of why kids are crying. They are hilarious and if nothing else, it unites us in this delicate, fast moving, unpredictable stage of life. Maybe it’s just the universe’s way of preparing us for more delicate, fast moving, unpredictable stages of life ahead (one of them called the teen years). Either way, each stage seems impossible to get through, (remember those newborn years that seemed to go on forever with no sleep, now they seem so glorious to the toddler tantrum years) but looking back, aren’t as bad as they seemed when going through. Embrace the toddler tantrum. Try to laugh through it because tomorrow, they will no longer be wearing firetruck shirts and you will be fighting over their wardrobe for a much different reason.
Stay strong, parents. If needed, throw yourself on the floor and have a tantrum. You may find it therapeutic.

Is it too late now to say sorry?

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I remember growing up and my parents forcing me to say sorry when I did something wrong or acted like a total jerk. Many times I would just say “sorry” in that under my breath, teeth clenched voice, not meaning it at all. While I always hated being forced to say sorry, I think it helped me realize when I needed to truly say sorry and how to properly say sorry.

Did you know there is an art to saying sorry?! I’ve learned this mostly in the last year. When you have been hurt and you feel like all you really need to get past something is a sincere apology from a friend, you realize how important words can be. It’s helped me be more truthful and sincere when I’m the one who needs to apologize.

People say “I’m sorry” throughout their day for any number of reasons from trivial blunders such as bumping into someone or dropping someone’s pen. Trivial affronts are easy to come by and don’t really need much (if any) emotion attached to it. But when an “I’m sorry” is needed for something much more hurtful, these words can be that much harder to come by. An ill planned apology can actually cause more anger. Even a well-planned apology can be undermined with the words we choose. So let’s look at the key points of a heart-felt, meaningful, apology that will let both parties move forward.

Apologies are not about you.

When you are apologizing, the apology is less about you and more about the person you are apologizing to. This is KEY and this is where most apologies go wrong. Too many times I’ve heard, “I’m sorry YOU thought….” That is not an apology. That is simply saying that you are sorry for them taking whatever you did or said in a way you wish they didn’t and you are not showing that you are sorry for doing whatever it is you did. Instead, your apology should sound more like, “I’m sorry that I….[made you feel that way]” or “I’m sorry I [hurt you]” or “I’m sorry MY actions/words….”. This takes responsibility for what you did and not saying that your sorry that the other person reacted.

I recently told someone who I thought was a friend of mine for an apology for accusing me something unthinkable. I told her that her accusations hurt me and all I wanted was an an apology for even thinking something like that about me. Her response, “I’m sorry you thought I was accusing you of an awful act.” That made me even more furious. All I wanted was for her to say something like, “I”m sorry for accusing you.” or “I’m sorry I made you feel that way.” Instead, she put it back on me and said she was sorry that I reacted, not for her actions. It shifts the focus off the person who is apologizing and really says, “I’m not sorry at all for the thing I did or said.” Psychologist and author Harriet Lerner talks about this in her first chapter of her book, “Why Won’t You Apologize?”

You can see how a simple word can change the meaning of the apology. Many times, I don’t know if people are realizing that they are even doing it. Dr. Lerner even talks about how humans are hard-wired to be defensive and offering a heart-felt, sincere apology is against our nature because it is an admission of guilt and makes us vulnerable. Not saying we are incapable of doing it, but it’s something we truly have to be intentional about.

It’s never too late to apologize.

It is true that time heals all (at least it helps), but when you hurt someone or someone hurts you, an apology, even years later (even if you have forgotten the incident) can be so meaningful. Sometimes I think an apology that is not immediate is more sincere because the person has been thinking about it and still feels that the apology is needed. Even if it isn’t NEEDED, it’s seems more genuine because it’s not just a reaction to your actions. Doing something hurtful toward someone else or being on the receiving end can effect both our physical and emotional health. An apology can help both the person offering the apology as well the person receiving it.

I know that I have a hard time with letting things go. If nothing else, I feel the need to say something to someone to find closure in a conflict, whether it’s to say sorry or to explain why I have been so hurt. Even in the times I apologize and a friendship seems over, I feel better because I know that at least I did what I could to fix the problem. I can confidently say that I did everything I could, I was sincerely apologetic, and my heart and mind can move on.

There’s no magic formula.

There is no magic formula or timeframe to finding forgiveness or providing an apology and every situation is different. In most cases, both people are at fault to come extent. An apology is also not going to guarantee that the conflict is over or that everything goes back to what it was, however, it can provide closure and provide a sense of peace to both parties, and allow each to move forward and allow time to heal wounds.