I had this dream once. My strong willed toddler woke up and the entire day there wasn’t a single tear shed. It was a totally awesome dream. Unfortunately, most days that dream is a far cry from reality. Raising a spirited toddler isn’t that easy.
Most days you probably see me walking from my car to the house carrying a toddler under my arm like a sausage. Can you visualize it? Toddler under one arm. Three bags of groceries in the other. He’s crying.
You’re not going to believe this, but he’s mad that I won’t let him drive the car. Yep, he’s two going on 30, and he wants to drive. He wants to sit in the driver’s seat and turn the wheel, turn on the wipers, beep the horn and flash the lights.
It’s kind of adorable unless you have somewhere to be on time, of course.
Or unless random men start yelling at you for letting your kid play with the lights because “he’s going to break something, and he’s going to cause your battery to die.” Yeah. Thanks random dude. Moms never think of that stuff.
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In addition to carrying around a crying toddler (over driving of all things!), you probably saw me in the elevator with him too. He was laying on the elevator floor sobbing his little eyes out. In case you’re wondering, he’s still upset over not being able to drive.
I’m sure you can imagine what I was thinking. I thought about how embarrassing it was to have a toddler throwing an epic meltdown in public. I thought about how everyone was looking at me, wondering what in the world possessed this child to throw such a temper tantrum.
The days of raising a spirited toddler.
These are the days I pray that onlookers don’t think I’m the world’s worst mom. I pray they know that I empathize with my toddler’s very big emotions more than anyone. I pray they know I really am trying here.
Raising a spirited toddler will do that to you—encourage you to pray. Encourage you to try harder. And motivate you to empathize. Parenting a spirited toddler forces you to see things through the eyes of a little boy who just wants to be like mommy. A little boy who just wants to live life like a free spirit.
He wants to climb on the counter.
Throw food in the air.
Pee on the floor.
Eat a little bit of dirt every once and a while.
You know, the good stuff?
Most days a raising spirited child will test your patience to no end. You will do all the right things: Convey empathy and patience, use positive parenting, offer choices yet firm consequences, limit screen time, play intentionally and so much more.
Some days are tough though. You do all the right things, and still there are temper tantrums and epic meltdowns. Most of course are reserved only for moments in public when everyone is watching you. The grocery store. The bank. You know, places where lot of people are watching?
Those are the days you become a resilient mom. When you become more patient than you ever imagined. You quietly pick up your toddler, empathizing with his desire to buy candy and what not…
“Believe me. I really wish we could buy candy right now too buddy. It’s hard.”
The whole time you’re secretly thinking, mommy could really use some candy right now. Seriously, just one bite of a king size Snickers would really help. Yeah, I’ve so been there. More times than I wish actually.
But here’s the thing…
You can do all the right things, parent like a champ, channel your mommy warrior and be the best that you can be, and your toddler still will only listen some of the time. Your strong willed child still will behave imperfectly and throw bedtime tantrums sometimes because that is what toddlers do. They are learning and testing to understand the world. They have big emotions because when life is new, everything is a big deal.
Really, it’s normal.
Stay strong, mama.
Today my spirited toddler and I are going to come home from running errands. Today again he will want to sit in the front seat, ‘start’ the car, and push all the fun buttons. He will want to do all the fun stuff that mommy does.
And today I’m going to let him.
He’s going to be the happiest kid in the world for 10 minutes while he turns the radio on and off, ‘drives’ the steering wheel, flashes the lights, and turns the wipers on. Some random guy is probably going to yell at me, and I’m going to tell him to go away and be quiet.
And when it’s time to go inside my sweet, sweet spirited child going to scream his little head off. I’m going to carry him inside like a sausage under my arm with three bags of groceries my other hand, and people are going to stare and watch. He will probably cry in the elevator too. It’s okay.
Because that is what raising a spirited toddler is like sometimes.
And moms help them pick up the pieces and carry them home.
Print this free toddler listening checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help with toddler listening. I always have the hardest time remembering these phrases. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join 37,000+ parents who receive my weekly parenting tips and ideas!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Check things off as you go and don’t forget a thing!