Healthy Boundaries With Toddlers


I imagined that “terrible twos” entailed the child throwing themselves on the ground, screaming, crying, and stomping their feet. I also imagined that it wouldn’t bother me, that I would simply walk away and let it be. I’m happy to report that on some occasions this is a true tale of events: I gracefully walk away from the tantruming toddler and wait for him to become a normal human again and move on with the day.

But… the other 90% of the time? Well, let’s just say there’s a little more emotion involved on both our parts.

To get to me, my toddler has many tricks up his little sleeve. His favorites? It’s a toss up between pulling my hair or yanking my glasses off my face and throwing them on the ground. Both aggravate me in different ways but they equally drive me nuts.

The hardest part of “terrible twos” is not the pain he inflicts, but the emotional roller coaster on which he sends me. One moment we’re playing together just fine, the next I am being beaten with a “toy” hockey stick. The pattern is as follows:

I get hit → I get angry → he gets in trouble → he cries → I calm him down/explain why he is in trouble → he’s fine → but I’m still angry because no one calmed me down!

My ideal self does not get angry… but, alas, I have not yet reached that point. While he’s ready to play and is loving again, my emotions are still hanging around Angry Land, and my throbbing body part is just fuel to the flames. Toddlers live in the moment, and I wouldn’t want to change that, but I cannot match it.

The time has come for me to implement boundaries with my toddler. I need a heavy duty emotional boundary to keep myself from taking his tantrum personally. And I need an even stronger boundary of NO. No hitting, pulling, grabbing, biting. No getting out of your bed two minutes after I’ve put you in it. No more of this “toddler runs the house” crap. If I am truly the one in charge then I need to act like it by reinforcing the rules that I have created. I need to do this not just for my sanity, but because I love this child and I want him to be a great person with whom I have a great relationship.

To guide me, I’m looking to this quote: “Do everything for love. That way, there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverance in little things for love is heroism.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

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