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Like every parent I live under the guise of complete and total adoration for my daughter, which often veils my vision and judgment when it comes to some of her behaviors. With her second birthday just around the corner, many of the things she should probably be reprimanded for are often dismissed because she’s cute. Although I know better, there are times I just cannot bring myself to discipline her, and as much as I hate to admit it, she just might be the b word. No, not that one, but BAD.

My precious little toddler is really more like a 30-year-old midget. She has full command of sarcasm, and actively uses it. She has been rolling her eyes since she was about five months, and most recently has added huffing, puffing and sighing, and “reaaallyyyyy, mom” to her repertoire.

She is a handful.

Her feisty personality coupled with inherited mellow dramatics, makes for comical and frustrating days. As easy as it would be to attribute her behavior to terrible twos, I know better than that.

Lately, I have been working an inhuman number of hours, so our time together has been limited to car rides between pickups and drop offs, and the occasional bedtime story. It seems that rather than growing pains, my daughter’s most recent affinity for adverse behavior may be her desperate attempt at hailing my attention. She grows increasingly demanding by the day, and out of frustration and fatigue, I often take the easy way out and succumb to her will to skip temper tantrums, and her over the top crying.

As the fog of an overbooked schedule begins to clear as I close out the semester, I am beginning to see the monster I have created for who she is. I am fearful for what’s to come knowing I must be more strict, stern and consistent in order to correct the behaviors my recent lackadaisical parenting has reinforced, and wonder if the damage is irreversible. They always say you get back what you gave your mother, and the universe is cashing in on that for sure.

Here are a few things I plan to implement to give my daughter more quality time and consistency.

  1. Activities: plan together time, not necessarily an itinerary of “here and there” but rather intimate one on one time, reading together, unwinding together, cuddling in bed and just chatting before starting the day. Small things like this will make children feel like the center of your world in these moments.
  1. Put at home work on hold: waiting to the children are asleep to get at home work done will allow you the serenity you need to focus, as well as saving children from feeling overlooked and ignored. If for some reason work can’t wait, have your children sit down with their own “work,” so they feel included, and not bothersome.
  1. Stick to your guns: as hard as it may be, don’t give in! (Preaching to the choir, no?) No matter how intense, and how long a temper tantrum may be, whether at home or in public ride it out. Consistency is always key, children pay attention and following through on your word with punishments and rewards is more important than we often believe. I have learned in my short time of motherhood that children do what they see not what you say. As they absorb information from their surroundings they quickly master the art of manipulation, from fake crying to lip poking, don’t let your kids catch you slipping!
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