Expat Magazine

Who Moved My Toddler?

By Expatdoctormom1 @ExpatDoctorMom

Who Moved My Toddler?

We seem to have made it through a month of hideous toddler behavior.  Yes, yes, yes, I realize that the toddler years are challenging I have been through them before.  But this was toddler behavior times 10.  It all started with a move to a new villa, followed by a trip to New Zealand to visit the grandparents and ended with a move up in nursery school class.  All of this occurred in just under a month.  I would have been upset and screaming if someone rocked my world and I had no control.  And upset our daughter was. And let us know she did.

I expected some change in behavior.  I thought I could gauge her response to our son’s response when he was a toddler.  Our daughter is much easier going which led me to believe she may have an easier time with change.  With our son, every change (during his toddler years) led to behavior changes for about a month as he learned to cope.  But his change in behavior seems angelic now in comparison to our daughter’s.

Our lovely daughter must have read the book on bad behavior and pulled every trick: from testing, the “No’s” got more frequent, to regressing, she decided she no longer wanted to be potty trained to tantrums, this was her best trick.  She shrieked countless times a day.  It seemed as if this behavior would never end.

Normally my daughter abates a tantrum very quickly when it goes unnoticed.  She is smart girl.  She does not want to waste her energy.  Somehow though, no amount of ignoring worked in getting the tantrum to stop.  We took our food to go during lunch one day as she thrashed on the sidewalk in tantrum.  I could feel the stares from the other customers. It was if no one had ever seen or experienced a tantrum. I can recall vividly how calm and collected my husband’s university friend appeared with her two children (4 & 5 ½) at the beach.  While I was praying mine would make it through the afternoon without shrieking.  Even a trip to the toilet without her would have been welcome. However, she abandoned her independence to be attached to my hip throughout our trip.

I thought I knew all the tactics in keeping her adjustment to the change at bay.  I tried talking to her about each upcoming change.  We had acquired keys to the new villa several days before we moved.  I took her over to the new place as I slowly transferred our closets.  I pointed out her new room and let her scooter throughout the tiled house.  We prepped her for the flight and the trip and talked endlessly about “Auntie” and “Nana” who she had met before.  She loves to fly, well sort of. (Her favorite part is the bus ride to the plane).  I talked to her about her new class and took her to see her new classroom.  The school was just as in tune as I was as her teacher had already taken her to see the room the day before. (Love that school!) We read stories about new homes, and flights. I listened endlessly and acknowledged her fears.

She wanted to go “home” as she called it from the new villa to the old, from New Zealand to Qatar and from her new classroom to her old.  But no amount of listening seemed to work.  The passing of time is what seems to have helped the most as she slowly adjusted and  forgot about the “old”.

We tried to remain consistent.  This was much easier to do during the move and during the classroom change.  The trip made all of our schedules a little different.  I must confess I love sleeping in so it was nice to have her sleep in too. Her behavior was met with the same discipline and distraction tactics we used before.  We did show more compassion.  We all really felt for her and her struggle to cope.  There were a couple days when she was wrecked with jet lag that she laid on the floor and just cried, no tantrum throwing just crying.  I did what I did best in these moments….cuddled her endlessly. She gives her affection selectively so this was a welcome change.

One tactic I did not use was “bridging the gap” by making an album of photos of the old and new.  Do I think this would have made the difference?  I would like to think it would not have.  This tactic seems good in theory.

As she recovered from the jet lag, the  bad behavior subsided and we started to have some quiet mornings painting, playing with play doh and hitting the playground.  I introduced Eskimo kisses and butterfly kisses.  The Eskimo are her favorite.  I started to see glimpses of our loveable toddler full of joy and energy. A week has gone by and her behavior has held until two nights ago when she came down with a cold.  Illnesses will make a child regress very quickly.  So out came the shrieking and out came the hip hugging.

And working from home, well that is something that I had to put on hold.  I just had to remind myself that this too shall pass… until the next change comes about that is. How has your child’s behavior changed during times of change? Love to hear your tips in helping your children acclimate to change!

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I tried to change the style a bit by incorporating the facts (which are in bold) into the story. Facts can be so boring! So hopefully this was more enjoyable having the knowledge hidden. Love to hear your feedback.

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