Why exercising with my toddler reduced tantrums.
Our son Charlie was almost 3. I recall a couple of winks and smug high fives between my husband and I thinking we had breezed through the ‘terrible twos’, as Charlie was a mostly tantrum-free kid. Sure, Charlie challenged us occasionally, what self respecting toddler doesn’t!? But he was usually easily turned around with some sort of distraction. Until our ‘three-nager' woke up one morning. You should have seen the pile of books by my bedside table. It was like I was preparing for toddler armageddon.
To cut a long story short (as this phase went on for weeks, then months, felt like years! ), after one climatic afternoon of epic tantrums, it became clear I was giving too much power to our Charlie. He was ruling the roost! My approach, at the time, reminded me of how the Charlie Brown cartoon teacher sounded.. “ waah was wa wa.. wash waaah wa wa..”, I mean, I was making no sense to Charlie at all. I had tried to negotiate, explain, bribe ( yes I know, please don’t judge me ) and yet I was only making it worse. No wonder! When I realised that Charlie was (a) jealous of his sibling Cooper and (b) he just wanted more engagement from me. It was then I decided to try something new.
It was an experiment. One beautiful Saturday afternoon, Cooper was napping and I had decided to spend some time stretching my lower back on our lawn and I had the idea to invite Charlie to do rolly pollys with me on the yoga mat. I thought video recording it might be interesting to playback see if a) the language I was using was all wrong and b) if something magical happened - and it did.
Charlie thrived in our one to one time. He had me all to himself. And whilst I went about my stretch routine he attempted some of them himself but he also used me like pommel horse. It was a real giggle together. The camera fascinated him too, he became a performing clown given he could see himself move about. The experiment went incredibly well, and that was the first tantrum free day in some many weeks. So there had to be something in this right?
I started to include Charlie ( and Cooper ) in my home workouts, which I usually shut them both out of. I used to think that my workouts had to be a kid-free zone. And granted this is usually the ideal situation if you want some peace but given I have time constraints the HIIT workouts I was doing only ranged from 10 -25mins, it was a safe amount of time before either one of my children kicked off out of boredom. Now when I roll the orange yoga mat out, it’s a signal for ‘mummy time’ and they both come running. They both love crawling all over me. Click here to see Charlie and Cooper working out with me.
In my view, my experiment truly helped reduce Charlie’s tantrums. It made me realise, as a mum, I needed to be truly present with him, and Cooper, if even only for a short concentrated amount of time, and how I could make my workouts fun for the boys to enjoy as well. It became a win win. I accept this might not work for everyone, every child and situation is different, however it inspired a change in the way I approached Charlie and his toddler frustrations.
There were other changes I made in my behavior to help Charlie change his - like keeping my language simple, cut the negotiation, no means no, and re-instated my position as boss. But the biggest win was including Charlie in a physical closeness that he loved. And here lies the motivation and inspiration for my blog, just a regular mum trying to cope and grow, try new things and be the best example I can be for my boys.
I’d love to hear your tips and experiences on how you navigated your way through the toddler tantrum minefield!? Please comment in the comment box below.