** I've had a lot of you ask me for specific behavioral strategies and parenting tips to use with Toddlers & Preschoolers. I mean... obviously! They look so cute and innocent at that age, but geez, they can stump us parents sometimes, right?! So, this is post #2 in the series: "Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers"! You can find post 1 here! If you have any specific parenting dilemmas or questions, for kiddos of any age, feel free to post them on our Raising Smart Cookies facebook page. This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!” **
Last week I had quite the day. A day that was just one of THOSE days. You know what I’m talking about because I know you’ve had them. All parents have.
Every one of our toys (including the ones that have hundreds of teeny-tiny parts that you’re bound to step on and experience extreme toy-stabbing-foot pain) was out, spread across every room of the house. Dirty dishes were overflowing the sink and there were piles of laundry in our room… and a load that had sat in the washer for two days, never being transferred to the dryer. Oops. My one year old refused to let me put him down at all, so it was noon and I hadn’t eaten. My four year old was having a series of tantrums, successively getting more intense as our patience dwindled. And my husband and I both had a ton of “stuff” to get done. Stuff that HAD to get done by the end of the day. I had really hoped for a shower (gasp!) that morning, but it clearly wasn’t happening.
My husband glanced over at me, trying to butter my now ice cold toast with our one year old clawing at my legs and turning blue in the face, and knew I was barely hanging on. I walked over to him, hugged him, and buried my face into his chest.
You know those hugs where you literally just melt into the other person? I needed one of those.
We stood there for about a minute, him just holding me, and we both started to laugh. Because… Parenting. Right??
Sometimes we just need a hug. Physical contact with another person, knowing we aren’t alone, knowing that we are loved and supported and that it’s going to be okay. We don’t want someone to fix our problem. Because maybe our problem can’t be fixed! We are just feeling sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, and need a hug.
And guess what? Kids sometimes just need a hug too.
Around two and a half years old, my son and I went through a time period where I felt like we were “butting heads” a lot. I read the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen and found it so helpful in so many ways. (Find a link to buy the book here.) But the part that really stuck out to me?
When your child is having a tantrum, feeling really overwhelmed or angry, sometimes they, too, just need a hug.
I read the author's words, thinking, “There’s no way a hug is going to fix these epic tantrums”, shut the book and went to sleep.
The next day, my son wanted his oatmeal in the blue bowl, not the red bowl, and the screaming started… quickly morphing into crying and gasping. I kneeled down and said, “It’s really sad that you can’t have the blue bowl right now, isn’t it? Do you need a hug?”
His little chubby, red, blotchy face nodded yes and he fell into my arms. I picked him up, he laid his head on my shoulders, and he melted into me, silently hugging for about 2 minutes. Then he crawled out of my arms, walked over to the table, and he ate breakfast.
I was stunned. Was it really that simple?
I’ve found that much of the time it is. Not all of the time, but much of the time. When my kids start to get really upset, offering them a hug works a large percentage of the time. We don’t need to talk out the problem, we don’t need to fix it or negotiate. We just need to connect with a hug and we are able to move on.
So, today, as your toddler or preschooler starts to “experience big feelings” :) I encourage you to see if they just need a hug. And if you’re having one of THOSE days, maybe you can ask them for a hug when you need it.
Because when it feels overwhelming, parenting feels hard, or the endless work beckons, a hug is a reminder that we love each other and are here for one another.
We are a part of a family. A messy, imperfect, flawed family. A family with big feelings and tantrums and crying. But a family with lots of love. And lots of hugs.