Before kids, I would cringe when I would hear a kid cry in a store. I would even get annoyed with the parents of the child that was throwing itself on the floor in the middle of the restaurant. My naive childless mind chastised those parents, and I would matter of factly say what I would do differently, since I had sooo much experience.
When my first son was born I couldn’t understand why people told me that having a baby was going to be so hard. Baby Boy 1 was very laid back and never cried and never had a meltdown as a toddler. I patted myself on the back on what a great job I was doing in raising him and teaching him how to behave.
However, when Baby Boy 2 came in, he rocked my world. BB2 showed signs of frustration as an infant. If he couldn’t roll over, he would cry. With each milestone he would get frustrated and scream until he mastered it. As an infant I found it cute and endearing, “look how determined he is!” Yet, as a toddler, his hard headedness (see how quickly determination turned to hard headedness?!) made me cringe daily. As he became older his frustrations came out as tantrums and meltdowns. He would breakdown at Mother’s Day Out, at church (luckily for him and me, our church family understood him), and at home.
In 2013-2014 my husband was deployed for a year, so I was a working mom raising 3 boys, ages 2,3 and 6 by myself. With such a dramatic change happening in our lives, BB2’s meltdowns became worse and I struggled every day with how to calm him and direct him in the right direction. I mean, he was only 3, so his maturity was no where to be found, but I needed him to understand that he could not behave like this daily.
That year I learned a lot. I learned that I was strong and that I could hold down the fort for my husband. I also learned that I had great friends who supported me and my boys. A friend of mine became our nanny that year. She would take my oldest to school and then spend all day with my 2 littles. She would take them to Mother’s Day Out 2x a week, but she did so much more. She taught me how to deal with BB2. Truly. She was very stern with him and he responded to her. I learned more about him that year and I have her thank for that.
I started to become much more stern and consistent with him. He began to realize that I was not going to budge on my demands of him and he would have to follow through. Also, he works great with positive reinforcement and would do anything for a sticker. His meltdowns started to become fewer and fewer, and we were grateful for the consistency and the peace that he had.
In 2014 we packed up our whole family and moved to Texas; this was a great disruption BB2 and he regressed some with his behavior. The first 6-9 months was very difficult for our family. His defiance and his breakdowns happened daily and I had to get a hold of it as fast and as appropriately as I could.
We implemented 123 Magic and that was a God send for us. I still use it daily and he has made great strides with it. With 123 Magic it helps laying down a foundation of expectations for your children. It’s based off of time outs and builds onto that. As soon as we got 123 Magic, BB2 rounded a corner. I also believe that his maturity started showing itself, so that helped a lot too. BB2 has sat in time out in HEB, public library, and just recently, Target. This has cut down on him outwardly showing his frustrations and helping him with making better decisions.
Meltdowns are not easy and can very draining for the parents and the child, but I think with each cry and act of frustration we can learn something about ourselves and our children. I know that BB2’s stubbornness will be beneficial to him when he gets older, and my husband and I will continue to move him in the direction of making good choices. I know that he will grow up to be a great man that I will be so proud of.
And, when he becomes a parent and calls me to complain about his children’s fits, I will remind him what we went through with him, and to just be patient.