Kids cry. It’s a fact of life. When they are babies, they cry to tell you they are hungry, sick, poopy, or tired. As they get older, they cry because they struggle with communicating. Or they just don’t know better.
By two years old, it’s hard to remember that your kids are still trying to understand what is going on. They talk to you, have opinions, run around and listen to what you say about 50% of the time. Yet the other 50% of the time, you ask them to do something, and they cry. You tell them not to do something, and they cry. You ask them to wait a minute so you can get them what they ask for, and they cry. It can be very trying.
My husband has always struggled with the amount of crying that our kids do. He finds it frustrating and embarrassing when we are out in public. I used to be embarrassed, but have gotten to a point where it is what it is. They are two-year-olds who are trying to express an emotion they can’t put into words.
The girls cry a lot when I drop Jack off at preschool as they want to stay and play with the toys. I have had to come to an understanding that while they are pretty good at talking, it is how they express their frustration. They want to play toys like their brother and don’t understand why they have to go. Only through time and practice will they be able to get to a point where they can vocalize their frustration. It is not something that comes overnight, and it takes time and patience to help them understand.
While browsing on Facebook, I have found two helpful articles that have helped me gain a better perspective on our crying daughters.
The first is a video by Kristina Kuzmic, an awesome mom who posts really great and accurate videos about parenting. Her video is called Not Embarrassed, and it supports what I think about parenting and tantrums in public.
The second is a little story that was posted on Facebook by Mom Babble by Mary Katherine Backstrom.
“I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.”
From the diary of a 2-year-old:
Today I woke up and wanted to get dressed by myself but was told “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.”
This made me sad.
I wanted to feed myself for breakfast but was told,
“No, you’re too messy, let me do it for you.”
This made me feel frustrated.
I wanted to walk to the car and get in on my own but was told, “No, we need to get going, we don’t have time. Let me do it.”
This made me cry.
I wanted to get out of the car on my own but was told “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.”
This made me want to run away.
Later I wanted to play with blocks but was told “no, not like that, like this…”
I decided I didn’t want to play with blocks anymore. I wanted to play with a doll that someone else had, so I took it. I was told “No, don’t do that! You have to share.”
I’m not sure what I did, but it made me sad. So I cried. I wanted a hug but was told “No, you’re fine, go play”.
I’m being told it’s time to pick up. I know this because someone keeps saying, “Go pick up your toys.”
I am not sure what to do, I am waiting for someone to show me.
“What are you doing? Why are you just standing there? Pick up your toys, now!”
I was not allowed to dress myself or move my own body to get to where I needed to go, but now I am being asked to pick things up.
I’m not sure what to do. Is someone supposed to show me how to do this? Where do I start? Where do these things go? I am hearing a lot of words but I do not understand what is being asked of me. I am scared and do not move.
I lay down on the floor and cry.
When it was time to eat I wanted to get my own food but was told “no, you’re too little. Let me do it.”
This made me feel small. I tried to eat the food in front of me but I did not put it there and someone keeps saying “Here, try this, eat this…” and putting things in my face.
I didn’t want to eat anymore. This made me want to throw things and cry.
I can’t get down from the table because no one will let me…because I’m too small and I can’t. They keep saying I have to take a bite. This makes me cry more. I’m hungry and frustrated and sad. I’m tired and I need someone to hold me. I do not feel safe or in control. This makes me scared. I cry even more.
I am 2. No one will let me dress myself, no one will let me move my own body where it needs to go, no one will let me attend to my own needs.
However, I am expected to know how to share, “listen”, or “wait a minute”. I am expected to know what to say and how to act or handle my emotions. I am expected to sit still or know that if I throw something it might break….But, I do NOT know these things.
I am not allowed to practice my skills of walking, pushing, pulling, zipping, buttoning, pouring, serving, climbing, running, throwing or doing things that I know I can do. Things that interest me and make me curious, these are the things I am NOT allowed to do.
I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.
These two Facebook posts really allowed me to have a better understanding of my two-year-old, and now when they are starting to get upset, we sit down and talk about why we can or can’t do something. Ultimately, it is about them learning what is going to happen and understanding the process.
One example of this was the first day of swimming for my kids. Jack has a class first, and then the girls start their classes an hour later. Eva and Marie were so excited for swimming but were very upset when Jack got to go swimming without them. Despite my telling them before we went swimming and during Jack swimming that they had to wait their turn, they put up a huge fuss and definitely brought a whole bunch of unwanted attention our way. I’m pleased to say that the next class, after they understood what was expected of them, they did not cry once when Jack went to his class and they waited patiently until his turn. It’s just a matter of teaching them and helping them understand what is expected. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it in the end!