If you were to come to my house to visit, you would probably see Zhen (5) dancing around the house in her favorite dress or princess costume. Every day she must wear a dress or a skirt. No pants! Because pants look weird. Only dresses and skirts because that’s what princesses wear.
“How do I look? I’m so beautiful! I’m getting ready to go to the ball.” This is something I hear Zhen say almost every day after she puts on a dress or a skirt. And then she twirls around in her dress and starts dancing as she hums a tune.
Zhen has been wanting to take a dance class since last year so I was very happy when I found out our homeschool group was offering a ballet class for toddlers her age. On Friday, I surprised Zhen and told her I signed her up for the dance class. You should have seen the look on her face. She was SO excited!
Zhen’s First Dance Outfit
After dance class, we went shopping for a dance outfit. I bought Zhen a pink dance outfit and two tutus: one big, puffy black tutu and one red tutu. I bought both of the tutus so she can wear them around the house when she practices her dancing, which by the way is pretty much every day! 🙂
As soon as we got in the van, Zhen pulled out her red tutu and put it on over her leggings. “You couldn’t wait for us to get home, huh?” I asked her. She explained to me she was so excited to have a new tutu that she just had to wear it. Now.
I actually really love this about Zhen because she’s becoming more independent and discovering what she likes and dislikes. Zhen’s fashion style is a way for her to express herself, even at the age of five.
Being Five is Serious Business
Being five is a big deal to Zhen. She reminds us she’s five-years-old at least once a day. Might be a slight exaggeration, but I know she says “because I’m five” many times throughout the week.
Me: “You are such a big helper, Zhen!”
Zhen: (very matter of factly) “I know. It’s because I’m five.”
Me: (when she does or says something smart) “You are so smart!”
Zhen: (always sure of herself) “Yeah, I know. It’s because I’m five.”
Everything is because she’s five. Zhen owns the number five. If she sees the number five on something, she exclaims, “Hey! That’s my number!”
She once asked me if I could give her FIVE pieces of pizza “because I’m five.” I said to her, “I am not giving you five pieces of pizza, Zhen.”
Zhen’s response: “Well, you have to give me five pieces of pizza because I’m five.”
I said, “How about I give you four tator tots and one slice of pizza and then you will have five things on your plate?”
Zhen thought about it and then she said, “Okay, that’s fine. That’s a deal.”
Being five also means having “meltdowns”.
My little girl is full of so much personality and doesn’t hold back her feelings. AT ALL. I suppose it’s all part of being five. I’ll be honest I have my moments when my very opinionated five-year-old can work my nerves. Aside from being independent, my five-year-old also has some pretty serious meltdowns.
Moms and Dads, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “meltdown”. The crying, kicking, screaming, rolling on the floor because things didn’t get their way or you said the word “No”.
Your happy, sweet little boy/girl turns into this unconsolable person because you peeled their banana, gave them a red straw instead of a blue straw, accidentally broke their candy cane when you tried to open it for them, or you didn’t get them the toy they saw at the store. I mean, I could go on and on with all of the things that cause meltdowns for my toddlers.
Do you have any specific solutions that work for you when your child has a meltdown?
Five Tips for Toddler Meltdowns
Here are a few things Travis and I have found that works for us. I think the giving choices method is what’s working the best for us right now.
Breathe. I’m not going to lie about it. Meltdowns are HARD! I have two toddlers. That’s double the fun in meltdowns. Sometimes those meltdowns happen at the same time. OMG!
When I’m feeling frustrated about the meltdowns, I have to step away for a moment and take a deep breath…or two…sometimes even three. I’m only human. Travis or one of the teens will step in while I excuse myself from the room so I can take a moment to reevaluate the situation and approach the meltdown calmly.
Consequence. I believe it’s important to administer a consequence when one of my children’s behavior is inappropriate or out of line. For instance, if Zhen yells at her dad when she’s having a meltdown, then he or I will tell her she has to go to timeout. It’s not okay to yell at your parents and there definitely should be a consequence for the rude behavior. We tell her it’s not nice to yell, apologize for yelling, and then go sit in timeout.
If during the meltdown she throws a toy (because this has happened before), then we give her a consequence. Go pick up the toy, put it back, and go to timeout. Sometimes she even loses a privilege, like no video game time.
Parenting Tip: How long should your child stay in timeout? We always make the time limit according to their age. For Zhen, her timeout is five minutes, and for Zechariah, his timeout is two minutes.
Listen. I’ve been working on being mindful in listening to what Zhen is trying to tell me. Sometimes the way she explains something may not make sense to me because she doesn’t know how to put it into words because, well, she’s five! I have found when I stop to listen to her and not talk over her, she will remain calm and not have a meltdown.
Choices. Giving Zhen choices has been very effective so far. I give her two choices and then let her think about it and choose an option. Here’s something else that surprised me about doing choices: Zhen learned the meaning of the word “options”. Sometimes she’ll ask me, “What are the options? You know, options mean choice.”
Choice number one will be the task I need her to do plus a small incentive, like pick up the toys and then we can read your favorite books or play a favorite game. While the second choice is the task she needs to do and then a consequence. The consequence could be a timeout or having to go to bed early (if it’s nearing bedtime). It all depends on the behavior infraction.
Hugs. Sure, the meltdowns are hard and can even be very stressful, especially if the tantrums are more frequent. But at the end of the meltdown, we hug it out. It’s something that I am making sure I do more often. Just because your big kid is growing up doesn’t mean she’s too big for hugs!
Zhen loves hugs so after we talk about the issue or what’s bothering her, we like to hug it out. We say words of encouragement and also let her know how much we love her. We’re currently working with Zhen on using her words to express her feelings. It’s a work in progress at the moment, but I know with loving encouragement and patience, Zhen will get better at using her words to tell us how she feels.
Five Choices Because I’m Five
Sometimes, though, Zhen can get a little creative with having choices. Here’s an example: the other night, she was having a meltdown about going to bed. She didn’t want to take off her red ballet tutu and go to bed. Travis was trying to reason with her, but Zhen was not having it and she just fell apart.
I went into the room to see if I could help out. It took a few minutes for Zhen to calm down, but she finally did. I told her, “You have two choices. One – put on your pajamas, get in the bed, and then watch your favorite show, or two – put on your pajamas, get in the bed, and go to sleep.”
Zhen tapped her finger on her mouth and started thinking. She looked at me and said, “Okay, I have an idea. How ’bout I have five choices because I’m five.” Sighing and shaking my head I said, “Okay, let me hear this. What are the five choices?”
Zhen: “One: I don’t put on my pajamas and leave my tutu on and don’t go to bed.
Two: I go to bed with my tutu on.
Three: I put on my pajamas and then go to bed.
Four: I put on my pajamas, watch my favorite show, and then go to bed.
Five: I take a shower, put on my pajamas, eat some cereal (she licks her lips, rubs her belly and says ‘Yum!’) and then I go to bed! I choose number five. I think that sounds like a deal.”
I looked at her and sighed again. I was actually really impressed that she thought of five choices so quickly and her fifth choice wasn’t a bad idea at all. “Okay, that’s a deal,” I said.