Last weekend, I watched my friend’s toddler have a meltdown at a birthday party.
No. No. No. He did NOT want to play the game. He did NOT want the green cupcake; he wanted the BLUE cupcake. He did NOT want to sing the appropriate song to the birthday boy.
It was terribly frustrating, and I’d dare say embarrassing for his parents, yet, at the same time, entirely developmentally appropriate. They certainly weren’t the only ones in that same position. (Sophie had to be taken to the car when there weren’t any PINK cupcakes.)
About the time your little wonder wall hits age 2, they begin to develop defiance, and that’s okay. He’s learning to test his limits, and he’s learning what he likes and does not like. He’s also learning how it’s appropriate to vocalize those likes and dislikes, and it’s up to you to teach him how to set those boundaries.
When your toddler screams with rage when it’s time to leave the playground because he doesn’t want to, it’s not your place to give in. It’s time to leave the playground. You might want to manage his expectations by giving him a countdown. “Joshua, we’re going to leave in 2 minutes.” (Toddlers don’t have a great concept of time, but a countdown can help prepare them). “Joshua, we’re going to leave in 1 minute.” Then, you leave. Don’t backtrack on what you say you’re going to do; be consistent.
If there’s not a pink cupcake, give Sophie options. “You can have the green cupcake, or you don’t get a cupcake. What do you choose?” Chances are, Sophie will pick the green cupcake. Remind Sophie that it’s Bryce’s special day, not hers. When it’s HER special day, SHE can pick the pink cupcake.
Also, keep in mind that your toddler needs to go into situations well-rested and well-fed. Keep him on his schedule. If you’re going to a birthday party, make sure he’s had his nap first and eaten his lunch. If you’re going to an unfamiliar house, pack his favorite foods just in case he needs a backup. (See Gerber’s Lil Entrees, below.)
TIP: Gerber’s Lil Entrees are great meals for your toddler to not only feed himself but also get great nutrition. Gerber’s recipes, with entrees like Chicken and Brown Rice with Peas and Corn, are designed specifically for toddlers, with a taste your little one will love, an easy-to-eat texture and the perfect size for easy self-feeding. If your little one doesn’t like his food touching, like my older son didn’t, Gerber made these entrees with two compartments that keep food separate.