Celebrity guest blogger Kendra Wilkinson, star of E's reality show Kendra and mom to toddler Hank Jr., reveals her secrets to staying calm in the face of the Terrible Twos. Read Kendra's previous posts on what kind of parent she hopes to be, how she balances work and family life, her healthy eating tricks for Baby Hank, and how she tries to protect him from bullying.
Now that Hank is 2 years old, you know what that means… We’ve hit the TERRIBLE TWOS! We have reached the age where he is getting so smart and finding his way, and we are finding our “sweet spot” with parenting and believe me, there are times when we all get so frustrated at the same time which ends up super chaotic. Now that the baby understands so much more of what we do, Hank and I are trying to figure out what the best ways are to discipline him so that we do it the RIGHT way. Being patient is definitely the number one skill that I have to learn and develop. As some of you may already know, I am not the most patient person in the world, but right now with the stage Baby Hank is in, I have been much more focused on being more tolerant with him—and with everyone else in my life too!
One thing that has noticeably gotten worse now that my son is two is his tantrums. They are more frequent now and he is using the word “NO” way too much. For example, when Baby Hank gets out of the bathtub and I have to dry him off, he squirms and makes it so difficult to do because he HATES it! He LOVES the bath but hates getting out and getting dried off. He screams and cries and freaks out when I get him out of the tub and just gets pretty out of control. At first when these little moments started to happen, I didn’t really know what to do or how to handle them. I didn’t want to have to deal with that or have him deal with being upset, so I just kind of let him go. Now, I have learned that he needs to understand that after bathtime, we need to dry off and get into our PJs, so I have learned to make it work.
Learning how to discipline the baby has been a rollercoaster! I’ve yelled. I’ve said “No!” I’ve said “No, Stop!” “Don’t!” …Everything I could think of to make the baby understand. But the thing I’ve learned is that if you do that too much or too frequently, it loses its effect and makes situations that don’t need to be that serious very chaotic.
At the end of the day it didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t want to see my baby cry, and I didn’t want him to be frustrated, and the worst part was, he didn’t really understand what I was saying or why I was saying it. I think a lot of times, children his age end up crying simply because they don’t understand what’s going on. That’s exactly why it’s SO important for me to explain to Baby Hank what’s going on, why it’s wrong or right and make him understand. Oh man, I remember he used to absolutely HATE getting his diaper changed! It got to the point where I had to just explain to him why I had to do it. I would tell him, “Hank, you’re wet and we need to change so you can go play!” and that was a way that he could understand that he wasn’t in trouble and changing his diaper wasn’t a bad thing. LOL
Good discipline starts with me. I have realized the more calm and collected I am, the more calm the baby is (and the more calm my hubby is too!) I’ve learned the majority of the time, raising your voice all the time just makes the baby stressed and makes me stressed!
My son loves cars, popsicles and shark toys, so I use those three things to my advantage if I need to! I’ll say things like, “Do you want to go play with your cars? OK, that will be your reward after you dry off!” By speaking calmly to him and letting him know that even though we all have to do things we don’t always want to (like getting out of the tub) we can reward ourselves by doing the things we love—playing!
Even though Baby Hank still doesn’t like getting out of the bath, I think we have made some strides in making him understand and learning not to throw a tantrum if he can’t get his way. At the end of the day, if you don’t make it easy for your child to understand why you are punishing him, it becomes a yelling match. Getting your child to listen without having to scream and shout is HARD at first but once you find that balance and find the stride for what works for you then EVERYONE is happy. No one’s stressed, no one’s crying, no one’s yelling. Everyone’s happy. Phew.