Savina is growing and thriving every day, in every imaginable way, but instead of bragging about her progress, today I want to offer a couple of tips to new parents, because I know that a lot of first time parents struggle a lot with these kinds of things. These are things I have struggled with myself in the last couple of months, so I just want to share how I handled it, and maybe this will help you understand your baby a little bit better.
My daughter is 19 1/2 months old, and she has recently started throwing a lot of tantrums, which is completely normal at her age. She’s trying to figure out the rules, trying to figure out what she can get away with, trying to get her will. She is learning. It’s a new world for her that she’s grown into, and she’s just trying to figure it all out.
So two things that have been particularly obvious in the last couple of months are communication and throwing tantrums without apparent reason.
I want to start with communication, because this came up this morning with my husband, and I know a lot of parents struggle the same way he did.
Savina was trying to communicate with him this morning, while I was in the bedroom–still resting. She kept going “eh, eh, eh,” and my husband kept asking, “What? What? What’s wrong? What’s the problem?” She just answered with “eh eh eh.” Obviously she was fruitlessly trying to give the answer, while he was fruitlessly trying to find the answer, asking those questions. Unfortunately he had the wrong approach, because she is too little to really communicate perfectly well, and she’s really trying hard to communicate. I’m so lucky, Savina is already fairly advanced in her ability to talk and make herself understood, so I can imagine many parents struggling with this a lot harder than we do sometimes.
So what I said to my husband when they finally came into our room, was that asking “what?” and “what’s the problem?” “what’s the matter?” “what’s wrong?” are not the questions that get you an answer, because she doesn’t know how to answer them. She can’t answer you, because you’re not asking the right questions–questions that are easy for her to answer. So what I said was, depending on the room she’s in, depending on the situation, depending on her body language, her signing, her surroundings, just ask her questions, no matter how trivial or stupid or silly they may sound to you, just ask her questions. Ask her, are you hungry, do you want to read that book, do you need help, what do you need help with? I told him there even was this instance: she was actually in the car with me at the time, and she was getting quite upset, and kept pointing at something in the seat, and I kept asking her what the matter is, and obviously it’s not going to get you an answer, because babies that age don’t know how to answer something like that. So then I asked her, “Did you make pee pee in your diaper?” and she said ya, and I said okay, you’re wearing a diaper, it’s okay, and then she was fine.
You see, she was just trying to communicate. It doesn’t matter whether what she was trying to say has any significance. It doesn’t matter whether action needs to be taken–it’s just that she needs to communicate, and that’s what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to make conversation, and when you don’t understand her, that’s when she gets frustrated, and that’s when she starts getting upset, and cries, and stuff like that, because she’s trying to talk with you–she’s trying to have a conversation about something that matters in her mind, and you’re not understanding it. And if you just ask, “What?” “What’s going on?” “What’s the matter?” then that’s not communication, that’s just you asking her the same question over and over and over again.
You’re the grown-up, so you are supposed to guide the conversation–you’re supposed to be able to communicate with/to your baby, and just asking the same question all over and over and over, a question that is fruitless, that your baby is unable to answer, that’s just not very adult of you. The baby is learning–you already know the stuff. So go ahead and ask the silly questions.
The other thing I wanted to talk about, give some tips about, is random tantrums, those ones you think are completely meaningless, and there is no reason behind her acting out. And there may not be, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that she’s trying to get your attention and your understanding. Here again, you are the grown-up.
I want to tell you about a little situation that came up this morning when I was alone with my daughter. I asked her if she wanted to have breakfast, and she said yes, and I went with her to the dining room. I was about to put her in her chair, and she started tantruming, started screaming, eh eh no no eh eh. Some parents would freak out about their child freaking out, and I just want to say: it’s completely pointless to freak out over your child freaking out. It’s not going to make matters better–if anything, it’s going to make matters worse. Your child needs your support, your understanding, and your love, not you freaking out. Also, always remember: you’re the model for your child. Especially at this age: whatever you do, she will mimic. Why? Because she sees you do it.
So basically, what I did instead of screaming at her, and saying “What? What is going on? You just said you wanted to eat! Stop crying. Stop this behavior,” bla bla bla–this is just not the right approach. What I did, when she started rolling herself on the floor, screaming, you know, the whole nine yards, I sat down next to her, and I let her do whatever she needed to do, and then after a little while I said, “Do you want to come and cry with Mommy?” I kept asking her that, and I wasn’t getting an answer, so I waited a little longer, and I said to her, “Come to Mommy, come to Mommy,” reaching out to her, and at first she didn’t want to, but then she reached out to me, and I grabbed her, and I put her in my lap–she was still tantruming at that point–and I asked her, “What’s the matter, baby?” (of course I just told you not to ask that over and over, but again, I only asked that once, and I’m by no means perfect either). And I cuddled her, gave her my love and my understanding, and I was patient–it’s so important to be patient. So, after a little while, she calmed down, and I asked her again, “Do you want to eat something?” and she said yes, and in my mind I went over what happened earlier: I’d asked her if she wanted breakfast, and she’d said yes, and I had attempted to put her in her chair. Well, I wasn’t going to take that chance again of setting something off, so I asked her, “Do you want to eat at the table?” and she said yes, and I asked, “Are you going to go in your chair?” and she said yes, so then I got up with her, and I put her in her chair, and she was fine.
So I guess, what I’m trying to say is, go slow, be patient, don’t overreact. Keep your calm, keep your patience–that is so important. Don’t say things like “stop that,” “stop crying,” and the like. Don’t ignore her either, or say things like “Fine, have your little tantrum then,” and walk away. You need to be present for your baby, be calm, loving, and understanding. Remember, you are the grown-up–act like one. I have no idea what her problem was–it doesn’t matter what her problem was. What matters is that you are there for the baby. If you are there for your child, and you show her understanding for her feelings, because children this little have big big feelings and big emotions, and to them they matter, to them they are something, even if to you seemingly they are nothing, you will quickly notice that handling these situations becomes easier. I know it can be hard at times–trust me, I, too, slip at times. Nobody is perfect–just know what your baby needs, and try as best you can to be there for her during tough times. Remember: don’t react–respond.
I can give countless more examples from our every day life, but I think you get the idea without me writing a novel about it.
So those are my couple of tips for today, and I hope it helps you in dealing with your baby during rough times.
Thanks for reading, and look forward to an update on my little girl and peanut next time. Lots of love to all the parents out there–you do great!