Ask Dr. Zoe – Help! I Get so Frustrated With My Toddler!

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‘Matel’ Asked:

Hi Zoe, my question to you is as follows.

I get frustrated when my girl 3.5 years old does not act the way I want her too. She is very hyper, fearless and very wild 🙂 i end up shouting, being upset and being in bad mood quite often than normal. How can I come to manage my emotions? I feel hopeless at times when parenting become tough.


Dr. Zoe Answered:

First, please know that all mamas feel that way. You are not alone. These little ones that we love so much, instinctively know how to push all of our buttons.

Your daughter is an individual person with a will of her own. This may be hard to hear, but she will rarely act the way that you want her to. And this is just the beginning. One day though, she will do something incredible that will blow your socks off with how amazing she is. You will get enough of these moments in your lifetime of parenting that will make the tough times worth it.

But, remember, she is not you. She will do things differently than you do. You can’t control her and she will push against you when you try.

Know Your Job

Your job is to mold her, teach her, instill your values, model good behavior, maintain boundaries and consequences. As her parent, you are to be her container until she learns to make good choices in life. When you stop trying to control her, things will feel a little better for you.

Get your guide for raising great girls, here!

That fearlessness and free spiritedness she has will serve her well in life—even though it will probably put a few grey hairs on your head in the process. So, what’s a momma to do?

First, you need to understand how your beliefs about her behavior are contributing to your frustration. Do you believe that children should be quiet? Do you feel that her disobedience means you are a bad parent? What’s the story you are telling yourself that has you feeling hopeless?

Yes, parenting is tough and it’s tougher when we have “shoulds” that drive our behavior. When you notice that you have a should that is making you feel badly about yourself, challenge yourself. Is it really true? From where did that belief come?

Next, give her options instead of direction. When she’s running wild, instead of trying to stop her, re-direct her. Young kids will push against a roadblock, but they will happily go along with a redirection. Remember, she may be more strong-willed than you are, but you can still outwit her.

Approach Her This Way

Introduce options such as, “Do you want to jump on the trampoline or run in the back yard?”; “Do you want to sit here quietly or leave everyone and go sit by yourself?” Here, instead of just telling her no, you are giving her a sense of autonomy and teaching her to make good decisions for herself at the same time.

The yelling is not helping the situation, so look for healthier ways to release your anger. When you feel a need to yell, take a time out. If you have to, whisper through gritted teeth until you don’t feel the need to yell anymore. Or just go for it! And yell as loudly as you can in a private place like a pillow in your bedroom.

Separate yourself from her until you are calm enough to approach her in a healthier way. When you are not trying to control her, your need to yell will reduce. It won’t completely go away because kids will try you, but it will reduce.

You are not alone. No one tells us this stuff about parenting. Hold on tight, momma, you’re going to be just fine. And so will your little fireball.

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