My toddlers have all been very busy, and they get into everything. They climb constantly. They smear the contents of their diapers on walls and carpets. They have even, to my horror, escaped the house only to have a neighbor bring them back. One of my kids decided he preferred to be naked, despite not yet being potty trained, which led to redressing him all day long for months and months.
I have had children go through tantrum phases that would rattle my bones. I have had clingy children and fiercely independent children. Some of my kids liked to tear up books or draw on walls. At church, our family has been the most rowdy group for years. Currently, my one-year-old has separation anxiety that is more extreme than any of my other children combined.
Going through the toddler years six times with six different children has taught me perspective and patience. Now, instead of thinking, “This is my entire life, and I am failing as a mother!” I remember that kids go through phases. They just do. It is part of their learning, and that learning process may take awhile. As mothers, we do what we can to teach these toddlers, but sometimes we just can’t get through to them. Time is what they need, and knowing that can ease our stress.
My littlest guy recently had a major love affair with the toilet. He took every chance when the bathroom door was open to have a splash party. We tried to keep the door shut, but with eight people in our house, it just wasn’t happening. I would go in and get him and firmly tell him “No!” and “Yucky!” But soon after, he would be at it again.
This toilet phase was frustrating, but knowing it wouldn’t last forever helped me to be more patient. I continued telling myself “This is a phase!” as I intervened day after day. Sure enough, it finally clicked and he got the message. Now we are on to the next phase!
With six young children, we are going through multiple phases at all times. But I take it all in stride these days. I don’t mind wrestling with wiggly toddlers when it is time to hold still. I know this restlessness won’t last, and neither will their dimpled little elbows or the sweet way they call pistachios “mustache-ios.”
Understanding the nature of phases has made me a better mother. I have learned that sometimes during the most difficult phases, when you are in survival mode, it is okay to scale back on everything else for awhile. I know that eventually I will get back to functioning fully, but right then I am nurturing my child through a phase.
QUESTION: What challenging phases are your kids going through right now?
CHALLENGE: Take a moment this week when your children are being difficult to patiently nurture them through it. Then smile to yourself as you remember that this is not going to last forever, and pat yourself on the back for handling it so well.
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