Sara is 2 years old. 2 years and 19 days to be exact. She’s a well behaved girl with usual cheekiness and curiosity but never a “problematic” one.
A week ago, after our quick gateaway to Pangkor, she caught high fever. The fever went up to 40.3C, Alhamdulillah, she didn’t get febrile fit. Her doctor said she’s older now so her threshold is much higher.
Now, upon recovering, she had been really fussy. Sure, I understand, she’s probably feeling fatigue and still sore from the fever, so we put up with her fussiness and tried to be as gentle as possible. The thing is her fussiness came with aggressive behavior. She started hitting and kicking both of us. Whenever we try to calm her down, she would hit us even more and cry to leave her alone. I tried telling her gently that hitting hurts mama and abah, but it seemed she chose to ignore it. The best bet we had was to distract her attention by reading her some books.
Being the mother, I knew something is not right, something is bothering her because she is usually gentle. Plus, we don’t believe in hitting.
So I offered her favorite teether several times a day and sometimes she took it. Okay, she has 4 teeth coming out all at the same time, so that’s probably it. We went her grandma’s house so that my mom could give her a massage. My mom said she is having a lot of wind everywhere in her body.
After that, her mood improved significantly, but not entirely.
She was still aggressive whenever she was fussing. If something is not right, she started hitting us. My husband has started to lose his patience but I told him we need to remain gentle until we find out what’s going on with her. I reminded him that this is not her usual behavior so we need to be careful on how we handle it because the last thing we want, is to make it worse.
It baffled us. So I asked around, and everybody around me said it’s because she’s going to get a sibling. While I don’t deny that, I don’t think she fully comprehend what it means to get a sibling. So to say something like that for a 2-year-old is quite simplistic thinking.
There must be deeper, underlying cause.
So, I looked up to google to see what the experts are saying. I was all ready to find a children phycologist to fix the problem. From my finding, it turns out toddlers her age want more independence and power, yet they are limited by their vocabs and capability.
I wanted to test this to see if it’s true.
Yesterday, I was very careful not to force doing her anything that she doesn’t want. I tried to respect her wishes and let her do whatever she wants. She threw foods around for fun, instead of nagging at her, we showed her how to clean up the mess. She helped a bit and then moved on (something we need to work on). She insisted to watch ipad, I let her watch one song and then we negotiate for other entertainment. Then, she didn’t want to get out of the car, because she is tired and she wants to sleep in her car seat. So, we said we’ll give her a treat (Garret popcorn to be exact, lol) if she’s willing to sleep on the bed.
It worked! She stopped being aggressive altogether! She did fuss a little for milk in the middle of the night, but that’s it. No hitting, no aggressive behavior. She went to bed with no problem, and woke up in a fairly good mood. Alhamdulillah.
Let’s recap how we handled agressive behaviour.
1. Respond gently. Tell her hitting hurts and it’s not okay. Always remain calm, and if she vocal, ask her what she wants by guessing a few things. She may point or stop crying when you guessed something right. Don’t try to ask a toddler what they want when they are mad, they wouldn’t know how to answer.
2. Be more observant and attentive to her behaviour. Try to think of any triggers. Is there any changes in her life or daily routine recently? or;
3. Consider where could she have learned such behaviour (daycare, tv shows, etc) and if possible, fix it.
4. Once I think I might know the underlying cause, work towards it.
Parenting is a path of a crazy roller coaster ride. Once we figured things out and everything is okay, things just flip and turn around and leave you hanging again. It is just all the transitions and phases of a child, on top of us trying to keep things together. The key is, like my husband like to remind me, to always celebrate the small victories and worry tomorrow’s problem, tomorrow. At the end of the day, we need to cherish the moment, because our children is not going to be little for long. Sara is a living proof, she is 2 years now and I barely felt the 2 years gone by.