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When parenting means steering into the skid

I closed the door to our bedroom, tip-toed to the far side of the bed and sat down quietly on the floor. From the living room, I could hear my four-year-old daughter screeching at me to come help her with her computer game.

Here I was, the parent who so attentively responded to her cries when she was an infant, the mother who gently led her through the wilds of toddlerhood, the person who has written more than once on positive, proactive parenting—literally hiding from my preschooler and her constant crankiness.

It was not my finest moment.

We’ve been going through a rough patch lately, and I know this season is universal to the experience of parenting. It’s easy to get caught in a frustrating cycle: the more she pushes, the more I pull back.

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of an epiphany when my father’s advice about navigating hazardous road conditions began to ring in my ears: “You’ve got to steer into the skid.”

Photo by Mish Bradley

When your child goes through a difficult phase, it’s challenging for even the most dedicated of positive parents to stay the course. It’s easy to implement all we know about healthy, proactive parenting when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, but when the road is covered in ice and you just can’t seem to get any traction anywhere, well, it’s easy to spin out.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that much of the advice given to drivers navigating hazardous road conditions actually speaks quite perfectly to parents who are navigating the precarious parts of parenting that are inevitable in the life of every family.

Avoid going too fast.

Driving experts say that most icy road collisions could be avoided if drivers just slowed down. When I thought about when this difficult phase with my preschooler began, I realized it coincided with increased busyness in my life. As my book’s big deadline neared, I found myself flying past my daughter with a kiss on her forehead and “I sure love you!”, but little else in the way of true connection.

Kids are more sensitive to changes in pace than we are, and a sudden plunge into misbehavior may be a warning signal that as a parent or as a family, things are moving too fast.

Leave plenty of space.

Photo by Tony the Misfit

It’s pivotal to leave enough space between your car and the others when roads are dicey. When parenting a child through a rough patch, the same idea holds true: it’s pivotal to make space for them.

When my child pushes me with her bad behavior choices, my natural instinct is to pull back and cut her off. But as a positive parent, I know that disruptive behavior is often an indicator of a disconnect between the parent and child.

The tricky part is putting that theory into practice and intentionally creating meaningful, dedicated space where she and I can genuinely connect.

Anticipate problem spots.

My friend Laura and her family recently road tripped from Indiana to Oklahoma to hang out with our family for a few days. We were amused by their curiosity about the “Do Not Drive Into Smoke” caution signs that mark certain stretches of Oklahoma highways. Grassfires are a common event in our state, and motorists are warned repeatedly not to drive into smoke that may have engulfed the road.

I’m guessing that the highway departments of each state have put time and money into signaling potential problem areas to drivers, be it smoke, ice, construction, curves, or blind spots. As parents, we are uniquely equipped to anticipate the problem spots that trigger chancy conditions with our children.

For example, it’s difficult to take my daughter to the grocery store this time of the year. Toys and glittery lights and sugar-laden treats on every aisle practically guarantee a serious case of can-I-have-this-itis. I’ve learned to navigate this problem spot by either going to the store solo, or by reinforcing boundaries and expectations beforehand.

Steer into the skid

Photo by KSDigital

When a car goes into a skid, the natural impulse is to jerk the wheel. We want to resist the scary loss of control and oftentimes over-correct, which is just as dangerous. And isn’t that the case with parenting? Correcting behavior issues is important of course, but in the midst of a troubled phase, sometimes the best approach really is to turn loose of the resistance and intentionally steer into the skid.

What does this look like in action? Find ways to re-establish the connection with your child. Pursue physical connection with more hugs, snuggles, and cuddles. Invite emotional connection by being purposeful with eye contact and authentic conversation. Develop spiritual connection by engaging in activities that allow your child’s spirit to soar.

As I’ve confessed to you, no one knows more than I do that sometimes it feels easier to hide. And to be honest, sometimes I need a Mommy Time-In before I’m equipped to parent through perilous parenting moments.

But once I am centered and re-focused on helping my child navigate her big feelings, I’m better able to the healthy and helpful parent she needs.

We can talk about positive parenting all we want, but until our philosophies have been tested by the stormy weather of difficult childhood phases, it’s all just talk. Putting positive parenting to the test when it would be easier to hide, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road.

What is your go-to strategy when your children are going through a difficult phase? What specific examples can you share about what steering into the skid looks like as you parent your little ones?

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Rebecca

    Wow. Words worth a tree. . .printing this out so I don’t forget about it. Thank you for the time and love you put into these encouraging words.

    • Megan

      This is definitely one of those articles directly mostly at myself – so many things I have to remember on a daily basis!

      Thank you for your kind response.

  2. Talysa

    Just this week my 11 year old daughter disrespected her dad by not obeying his request. Instead of responding, she questioned…more than once. It was a pattern we had seen developing. To be honest…you hate to panic at first because it very well could be a passing phase that they aren’t intentionally doing (we are in hormone land right now) and sometimes making a big hoopla over it causes them to be tempted to continue the behavior in spite. Some things do just pass with a few bouts of correction and love. But this episode cut us to the quick. We knew we had best get her attention as to what was acceptable and what would have severe consequences. She was to go to a friends house the next day for a little hang time. We knew this was where we had to “hit her where it would hurt”…be willing to disappoint her in such a way that she would see the consequence to her actions and think about them. We knew our yes had to mean yes and our no mean no. She is a strong willed child and needs this from us I am finding. So we ultimately broke her heart by telling her because of her actions she would not be allowed to go. And in turn our hearts were broken too. It was so tempting to allow her to go the next day after seeing how convicted she was and how sorry she was for her actions. It would have been so much easier to give her the desire of her heart…especially since she had accepted her punishement and not asked to go even once…and frankly so much easier to just be done with this whole discipline thing. It’s exhausting and much easier to “steer away from”…but we stayed the course and stuck to our guns. This parenting thing is HARD!!!! Great post…thanks.

    • Megan

      Oh, hormones! I am not looking forward to the day those kick in with our daughters. Parenting is such hard work, you are right. Thank you for sharing your story here!

  3. Claire

    Wonderful post. I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this tonight. As a Mom of three boys ages 16, 7 and 4, I can SO relate to this. This week it was the teenager’s turn to push the limits. Sometimes I cannot believe that this “little guy” I birthed (who is now a foot taller than me) can actually say the hurtful things that he says. Teenagers are definitely in a class of their own since… well, they know everything!
    Our heart breaking “no” to him (AKA “The Consequence”) is that he now cannot go to a concert this Thursday (and goodbye $59!!)
    The 4 year old is also on a constant mission to make bedtime last an hour or more… It’s been an extremely trying few months and, since I work full time, it’s definitely hard to find balance. Loved reading this and I am reminded that the days are sometimes long but the years fly by so fast.
    Thanks for posting and Merry Christmas to you all!!

    • Megan

      At this stage, I can only imagine what parenting a teenager looks like! I am encouraged to know that some of the same principles hold true whether we are parenting little ones or bigger-than-us ones. 🙂

      Merry Christmas to you and your family, too!

  4. Sami

    Awesome, just awesome. My 3 yo has been lovely lately, but it’s my 2 yo that’s driving me crazy. And it’s because she wants attention. We’re into positive parenting too so often times fits means sitting on the floor with mommy or daddy holding them and whispering calm and loving things in their ears. It is often the last thing I want to do, but it works the fastest and builds their trust in us. Also, it has cut down the length of time a phase will go one (like weeks instead of months).

    They sure have funny ways of asking for attention, don’t they?

    • Megan

      I meant to say that in the article – that sometimes it’s doing the thing we want to do least that we need to do most. It is really much easier said than done to purposefully engage with a child who makes you want to pull your hair out – but as you said, it truly does serve a purpose.

      Thanks so much for sharing what positive parenting looks like in your family, Sami!

  5. Belinda Norrington

    Just brilliant and very helpful analogies, as useful for teens as tots. Thank you.

  6. Diane

    Ahhh… I’m an old-lady-mama now. My youngest is going to be turning 13yo in just a few days and I got a late start on this whole mothering business anyway… that said, this is one of the very best articles on parenting I’ve ever read. Seriously, I could have so benefited from reading this when my (now grown up) kiddos were small. Over the years, I’ve learned the truth of what you have written here, but sadly, it took me years to learn it!

    As for my go-to strategy for tough times… the best piece of advice I ever got was to always always always look for the good. Kinda Philippians 4:13 in parenting mode, if you know what I mean. There is always something about the kid that is praiseworthy, so I try to focus on that. Sometimes that focus plays out in the things I’m saying to the child, sometimes in what I’m saying to someone else within their hearing, and sometimes just what I’m saying to myself… an internal monologue I’ve got going on in the worst of parenting moments to remind myself of how wonderful this kid really is. Cuz that’s easy to forget in the middle of a huge meltdown, lol.

    • Megan

      Oh, Diane! SUCH kind words. I am humbled.

      “an internal monologue I’ve got going on in the worst of parenting moments to remind myself of how wonderful this kid really is.”

      Absolutely! YES. That positive self-talk is often exactly what I need to keep my own thoughts in the right place before I can effectively and lovingly reach out to my child.

      Such great wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing your response!

    • Jocelyn

      I was given that advice sometime ago but gave somehow forgotten! Thanks for the reminder to focus on the positive (I need the mantra in my head most of all, it changes my entire perspective on challenges )

  7. Katherine

    Great article. I have frequently hid in the bathroom (because it has a lock) over the past few weeks. My 3 year old seems to need constant attention and it wears me out. I was talking to some other moms about it and one reminded me that this may mean she needs something from our relationship that she is not currently getting. Instead of pulling away to try to create space for myself, I have tried to go with it and see what else I can learn about what she needs right now. Steer into the skid, as you say.

    Great article.

  8. Jeanette Edgar

    Good advice. The perspective that misbehavior is often linked to a disconnect the child feels with a parent is a mirror to ourselves with the Lord. I found it’s true, in myself and in my kids. Spending time reading together, throwing the football, whatever – makes a difference in how my kids respond to me and situations that could fluster them.

  9. Jessica G

    My, oh my, how timely this is! My husband and I have been going through quite an ice storm with our 3 and a half year old daughter as well. Her 5 month old brother (who has been going on a nursing strike for the past 2 weeks) has thrown the balance of our family so off and we have yet to find a way to attain some sort of harmony. She lashes out with siren screams and cries, angry-pouty faces and one of the worst attitudes ever. She has been refusing naps, which I hear can be quite normal for this age, only she needs them–she’s a monster without them and she gets these huge purple bags under her eyes when the skips them. We feel like we can’t go anywhere because her defiance and disobedience is sure to bring a meltdown. She has literally taken to screaming when we tell her “no”, which, of course, is followed by immediate action to correct her behavior. We did not raise a brat–and yet that is how she acts 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time she so sweet, funny, creative, tender, imaginative. I imagine baby brother has a lot to do with this her escalated bad behavior. I definitely plan on sharing your article with my husband and using it as a tool to help because we are at our wits end.

    • Audrey @ Mom Drop Box

      For the first 6 months or so after bringing home my daughter, I had the same sort of behavior from my son. It was so tough. For us, once the baby started getting a bit older and once our son developed more, life started to get easier.

      Hang in there, and take lots of breaks! It does get better.

  10. Holly Berry

    Beautiful. And so true.
    I’m 8.5 months pregnant and we recently converted my toddler son’s crib to a toddler bed. He went from singing himself to sleep to screaming bloody murder at bedtime. Even though my back and belly were killing me, I tried to focus on savoring his little body hugging mine as I danced him to sleep for a week. Now he’s back to singing himself to sleep in his big boy bed. It was hard to feel like we had “regressed”, especially when so many support CIO methods, but I knew what he needed and I’m glad I listened to my heart instead.

  11. Nancy

    Woke up this morning feeling anxious about my son returning from college. I know he’s going to be exhausted from the semester and from travel, and things were pretty dicey before he left for school this summer. With big changes in life comes huge anxiety, which sometimes comes out as anger.

    Thank you for this. I remember my dad teaching me to steer into the skid. I wasn’t very good at it. It felt scary. Like anything else, I guess, it calls for practice.

  12. Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    I feel so blessed to be reading this post before my first child comes along. I have a big job ahead of me and while I am so thrilled to become a mom, I know it will not be easy street. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  13. stacey @

    Oh, thank you for this!! I am certain this is the root of a lot (but not all) of the issues I see in my very energetic, passionate, aggressive two-year-old. Going too fast & lack of connection. This encourages to lean in to her & not pull away. Her little world was probably turned upside down when I found I was pregnant when she was 4 months old! Then, 4 months later found out it was twins! She quickly lost Mommy’s lap and probably a lot of attention. Thanks for encouraging me to snuggle more today and pursue her more today even in the face of tantrums and misbehavior.

  14. Evie Stephan

    Thank you so much for this post. Very helpful. When my impulse is to pull away from a toddler who is being so difficult and annoying, maybe I need to pull closer to him. Wouldn’t that just smooth away the troubles he’s trying to show me that he’s having? Thank you, thank you. So very well written.

  15. Audrey @ Mom Drop Box

    Really enjoyed this article. My 4 year old has a need to talk through hurtful situations- sometimes over & over again. Yesterday, I went to pick him up from daycare, and watched he fell and banged his chin because a little girl pushed him off the ladder he was climbing. We’ve spent a lot of time since talking about how that wasn’t nice & wasn’t fair. I try to respond kindly to his need to talk because that’s his way of sorting through what’s happened.

  16. Gretchen

    Thanks so much. Wonderful perspecitve first thing this morning. Super post! With four children, there seems always to be one who needs the extra intentional attention! Good words. Merry Christmas!!

  17. Megan Willome

    Hmmm. A lot to think about here. But I must warn you, turning into the skid with a teenager is very different than turning into a skid with a 4-year-old. Still, that is what I’m trying to do (I think. I don’t know anymore.).

  18. S. Pinneo

    I love it, Megan. This essay is a keeper. If only I could “pull over” this month somehow…

  19. Emily

    Thanks for helping me to feel not so alone. We’ve been going through a difficult time with just-turned-five DS, and I have been learning the principles in this article…the very hard way.

  20. Tamara Joy

    Wow. What an awesome post. Thank you so much. I’m sharing this and printing it out for myself to have on hand.

  21. Lorette

    Thank you for this post and reminding me my 4yr old needs extra attention from me . I had to chuckle when you mentioned how you used to respond to her cries as an infant and now you are hiding from her. I would do the same thing. when my daughter was an infant and she cried I literally ran up the stairs to get to her, now I just wave my hand and say “stop crying.”
    when she has a melt down for some silly reason cause someone took her toy, or she cant get her sock on, I will remember to take a deep breath and this phase will pass.

  22. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    *Sigh* I have a 4-year-old who makes me want to hide in the bathroom many a day (hour, minute…) Thanks for giving me an analogy I can work with.

  23. Becky - Clean Mama

    Wonderful post, Megan – I love the visual of steering into the skid. Thank you!

  24. Alexis

    Nice driving analogy 🙂

    I find that when we go through a rough patch I tend to withdraw a bit (I mean really – who wants to put up with a cranky kid all day?). Which is not a constructive response, regardless how much I wish it were. So I’ve forced myself to seek connection when really I just want to go to Starbucks by myself.

    I also acknowledge the problem and ask for their input (my oldest is 5) and have found it to be really effective! “I feel like we’re not having as much fun together lately. What do you think we could do differently to make things better?” I like to be honest about what is going on with our family and get their involvement in the solution. Try it – they may surprise you with some really great suggestions!

  25. Kristina

    Wow, Megan, I really needed this one today. My 4 year old son threw the worst of all fits while getting ready for school this morning. I never thought to step back and look at what I was doing different to cause this reaction. Thank you for putting this post together!

  26. melanie simpson

    After reading the article, I smiled and thanked God for His perfect timing:) We are skidding in all directions over here – 4 kids, 10, 7, 4, &2. We homeschool too and while it is a wonderful blessing, there is no “escape” for mommy! Most days we can all figure it out together, enjoy each other and the day, and even laugh out loud. Lately though there has been much screaming, angst, bickering etc. Makes this momma tired, cranky, tense, and if I’m honest with myself, makes me want to throw the in the towel. So it is with a somewhat lighter heart that I comment here – after scrolling through the other reader’s comments, seeing that this is truly a universal experience even though it so often feels like we are the ONLY ones who are imperfect with imperfect children. Thank you for the timely advice and for the wisdom of those who commented above. Sharing your hearts has made a difference for this momma!

  27. Brandi

    This is exactly what i needed to hear today. Though your baby is a preschooler and mine gets her drivers license next month, I can completely relate!

  28. Pam

    Great post! My daughter was a breeze at 5, but my son is definitely testing us – I truly think he just needs more attention, but sometimes I get so easy I forget . . . great reminder – thanks!

  29. Hillary

    Music to my “very-tired” ears. I’m a single Mom with the kids 24/7. It’s really hard to play good cop/bad cop all by yourself. A friend told me, it’s not about being a cop, it’s about being a parent.
    I also live in the snow belt of NY and have often used that analogy—life is like driving in snow—it’s all a controlled slide. And right now I needed the reminder that bad behavior is a signal of a larger problem.
    This morning my son had a tantrum waiting for the bus. It took all my strength (and the help of another Mom) to physically get him on the bus. The bus driver called later to report he did fine after they left the parking lot.
    Thinking back to the last few days—we have been very busy. I recall several moments when he requested game time, reading time, puzzle time and I have said, “Not right now buddy.”
    I have a feeling if I give him that time tonight, I will see better behavior throughout the week.

  30. Jill

    Thanks for the great post! It’s came at the perfect time for me. Between my 5 yo and 16 mo, I’ve wanted to just crawl in bed and stay there.

  31. Sara Tetreault

    My little ones are not so little these days!! We have 2 teens – a 13 year old and a 15 year old and our strategy is no yelling and to remain calm. My husband is better at this than me! Once yelling starts, it escalates quickly into ugliness. Parenting teens works a lot better when I don’t act like a 12 year old! I totally agree – ease on into the skid and be the parent.

  32. Jenn

    I’ve thought that exact same thought! I spend so much time responding to my kids when they were babies and truly believed in it and now when that whiny, screeching, demanding business starts I totally want to run for the hills!

    What a great metaphor….I love that steering into the skid. It’s so true…it’s against instinct. Good thoughts!

  33. Missy June

    I am a single mother of three young children and the desire to Hide is powerful! Thank you for the reminder to stay engaged, participating in the growth of our children. It is when the disconnect happens that they need us the very most. How true to acknowldege that our children are often more sensitive to the stressors of schedule changes and such. Thank you for the authenticity and drive to move forward!

  34. jeni

    wow. Made me well up a bit – going thru a tough patch with my 3-yr-old at the moment – life is going too fast for me, let alone him. There’s a new kid in town in the form of his 2wk old baby brother. I think I’m going to save this page to re-read it again and again. Thankyou. x

  35. Laundry Lady

    I just wrote a blog post about this issue recently. Sometimes I am just at the wits end with my 2 and a half year old. I’ve been known to hide on occasion rather than lose my cool (which isn’t always a bad thing). But I know with things being as busy as they are this time of year, my daughter can’t understand why we want always be playing with her and paying attention to her. Her response to whine uncontrollably and destroy the house. I’ll have to make a greater effort to make time and space for her, even when it seems like I’m coming loose at the seams as it is.

  36. christyb

    Lovely reminders in your article. Here in Minnesota we know that when your driving in the snow, and start to slide, you “look where you want to be”… that is, if you’re starting to slide a bit, don’t look down into the ditch, but keep your eyes on the road ahead. Interesting to think about this in the context of raising children, also. I know when it feels like we’re headed to the ditch in our child-rearing, that’s exactly where my eyes go, instead of focusing my mind on where we want to be on the road.

  37. Alissa

    This is PERFECT! Just the description for what we’ve been feeling with our 4 year old . So much snotty behavior and physical aggression toward his younger brother. Our standard response of “Time out!” just isn’t cutting it. I was just discussing this with some other moms of 4s (why doesn’t anyone warn you about the cranky/grumpy 4s??), and realized that perhaps what’s needed is just the opposite. Not TIME OUT to set him away from the behavior, but more engagement from mom and dad, more connection, more attention to help him stay on good behavior in the first place.

    It can be stressful to be a 4-year-old with the expectations of a “kid” but still the impulses of a toddler at times. Add in this busy time of year and our upcoming move… no wonder we are struggling!

    Thanks for this.

  38. Dee

    Megan, you really are so wise! Thanks for a great post.

  39. Keya

    Wonderful Post! My six year old had a moment yesterday that I had to really lean into “Grace” to deal with. He had received a arts in craft snake from VBS this summer. (which he hadn’t played with since this summer). He was looking for it and started to scream and cry about not being able to find this toy snake. I could feel my blood pressure rising and I thought about going to my “go to I’m irritated with my child behavior” and send him to his room to cry in peace. But that is not what I feel I need to be doing as a parent. If I’m to be the mother I want to be I have to take these opportunities as learning for me and for my children. So I said a little prayer and went to him. I asked him why he was crying and he told me it was because he couldn’t find his snake. I told him I was sorry he was upset but he had lots of other toys to play with and he hadn’t played with said snake in six months. He persisted with crying. I asked him if the snake was really that important and if he wouldn’t reconsider playing with some of the other toys he had. He said “no”. so I made him a deal. He could cry over the snake and I would even go and get him a new snake of his choosing IF he let me take his other toys (cars transformers etc) to the Goodwill to give to a child who didn’t have much. He stopped crying. I told him it was okay to be upset over his snake, but I reminded him that instead of focusing on and being sad about the ONE thing he didn’t have, he should instead be grateful and enjoy ALL the toys he DID have. He wiped his eyes and started playing with his other toys. Happily – I might add. I also needed that reminder to be grateful for what was in front of me instead of “crying” about what I didn’t have.

  40. Ouiser

    This speaks to my mama-soul. Since the arrival of our son 8 months ago, it’s been so glaringly obvious that our 4yo daughter acts out so much more when she’s feeling neglected (which she’s not), but when we’re busy with the baby or holidays or whatever, her behavior is so much worse. Of course, it also probably seems worse than it is when I’m harried.

    I’ve really found that reminding myself that she’s only four helps. When I can stand back and say, she’s not being unusually bad, she’s being four, I can see things a bit more clearly. I still, however, expect her to act properly, it just changes my perspective a smidgen on what acting properly is for her.

  41. Erin

    I SO needed to read this today. Thank you for taking the time to share and encourage!

  42. megan

    This post really touched me today. My toddler and I have been having a tough time lately… Not suprising with a new little brother in the mix. Thanks for the encouragement. I have a lot to think about.

  43. Rita

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. As a parent of two (yep, twins) four year old girls (plus a 2 year old and 6 month old) we have been, shall I say, skidding a lot lately. Thanks for the insight, and the reminder that none of us are alone in our child rearing experiences.

  44. Cheyenne

    A very timely post for me as I have been struggling with a very loud, defiant 3 yr old! Thank you!

  45. Maria

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is just the reminder that I need while our family, too, is going through a bit of a rough patch. My 18-month old can sense the tension in the house and has been acting up in response. I have been trying to slow down our life to spend more time focusing on emotionally connecting with him. This was just the reminder that I needed!

    Thanks again.

  46. Las Vegas Sushi Mon

    Parenting is never easy. This blog is a real inspiration!

  47. Lisa

    Great post! And, believe me I’ve skidded a lot with my 17 year old……

  48. priest's wife

    What a post! Such great ideas- I think I need to bookmark this

  49. Michelle

    This is a genius post. Really. Having a 12 and 14 year old I can say that I’ve seen the results of doing what you recommend and doing the opposite. Your advice is really good. 🙂

  50. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home

    Oh Megan, I get this. I’m in such a similar place with my oldest right now. Some of it I understand where it’s coming from, some of it baffles me. And some days I want to run away and hide.

    Thanks for these wise words. I know that when my tendency is to turn and run, I need to lean in towards her instead. More time together, more affection and affirmation, more talking and definitely a lot of listening. I think we really do need to reconnect more, so I appreciate the encouragement to do that. Blessings, friend!

  51. Tamara

    This post is so timely for me. Thank you for this. I was feeling a similar way with my boys, so much going on with the upcoming holidays, and definitely a need for us to carve out some time to slow down and just be. Great advice!

  52. Kim

    Reading this post, and the comments, with tears in my eyes. I needed this today. Sometimes my heart is prepared to lean in… some days, I need a little reminding. I read not too long ago that when a child’s behavior makes us most want to escape, that’s when they need embracing most of all. Thanks for the refresher, and for helping me center my heart while my 2 1/4 year-old (who is sick and teething, both!) naps.

  53. Kristi Goldsberry

    Great article! Glad I am not the only one to hide from a cranky child, lol!

  54. Dana At Cooking At Cafe D

    I was afraid of reading at first, thinking there had been an accident. Instead, I read your lovely words. You did a great job with the analogy.

    I think the last steps would be:
    Breathe – When you’ve come out of the other side, take a moment to stop and breathe.

    Relax – You are now the wiser. You’ve been there now. One small step at a time.

  55. Alicen

    Thank you for this article! We have a 3 1/2 year old and a 6 month old and I’ve just gone back to work. The last couple of weeks have been trying with our oldest girl. She is definitely acting out because she misses Mommy. I try to get everything ready the night before and get out the door as quickly as possible in the morning to avoid having anything to fight with her about. I needed to hear these words, and I needed most of all to hear that other parents go through the same thing!
    But what should I do when she refuses to put her coat on before going outside and I’m already going to be late for work. I can’t just give her time to cool off. Should I just put her in the car without a coat – it is December in Atlantic Canada… I’d love to be able to hug and comfort, but she doesn’t want that and I don’t have 10 or 15 minutes to spare. Help please 🙂

  56. Courtney

    Thanks for this honest post. My four year old has been going through an emotional patch over the last couple weeks, and you just helped me resolve to be more intentional with our time together over these next few days. He is out of school now and I’ve got lots on my “to do” list for Christmas, but I think it would help him more if I just slowed down and played with him rather than rushed from errand to errand. Thanks for that.

  57. Christine

    Great analogy! My dad’s advice was “always drive the car.” Even if your spinning in circles, don’t throw your hands up, drive the car our of the situation and don’t stop until you’re safe. It’s saved my bacon on a couple occasions in a vehicle.

    So true of parenting. Too often when things get hard, I find that my kids are the ones who have taken control. I’m not driving the car anymore, we’re just spinning in the middle of the freeway taking our hits. A good reminder that it’s time to be an active, engaged parent taking the time to plot a route and drive us out of trouble and the bumps. Thanks.

  58. Steph

    I find this post very convicting. It’s so much easier to hide (or raise my voice) than to steer into the skid. When my two-year old acts up I’m trying to remember she’s not an adult. She’s a kid and I’ve been given the privilege to lovingly and positively guide her into maturity. When I remember my job is to teach and guide I stay much calmer.

  59. Betsy

    This is sooo timely for us and our nearly three year old – thanks for this post!

  60. Ryan

    I have to say, good advice. But, man, the analogy got in the way of your message on this one. Please, just be direct. I’m a busy dad. I don’t really have the time or attention span to keep reading a repeated analogy to get to the message. Just be direct.

  61. Adriel

    Thanks for a great post Megan. I definitely struggle with the first two the most – slowing down and leaving margins. I tend to be a pack-it-in person and when I get too taxed it certainly has negative effects on both my children and I (and then of course my husband too). A total lose-lose-lose. I really want to work on these in my life this year – especially just the building in greater margins.

  62. ZeeS

    Forget about the terrible twos and threes, with my daughter its been the 4s and she just turned 5. I wonder if it is a girl hormone thing. I thought she was supposed to be the “good” one who listens but lately she is testing the water. Part of it is her prankster personality but she is also very sassy. This post was very helpful and I am going to bookmark it on my reader as a reminder when I want to go run and hide, which is almost every day lately. Thank you for sharing.

  63. Bob Urbanowski

    Great advice, but – and Ryan (above) already said it – maybe it’s a male thing, but I guess we just want to get down to it! Be direct!

  64. Sarah Craig

    Love this article. My daughter was an extremely happy, easy baby. But at 2 and a half she has turned into a cranky stranger. I feel myself pulling away from her at times, or wanting to hide. This is great advice about how to handle this new stage we’re in. Thank you!

  65. Sarah

    I cannot tell you how timely this article was. Divine timing. The birth of our 2nd is any day and my 3 yo has been up to some serious antics. I had to pause this afternoon and realize it’s probably b/c I’ve pulled away. Truthfully, I sat there with that knowledge and didn’t really want to do anything about it. Reading this just gave me the push to draw closer and hopefully navigate through the craziness. Good stuff!

  66. Bill Swan

    I have a four year old child AND puppy. So the learning curve is sometimes sharp around here. What’s odd is the younger ones often seem to be the first to notice problems approaching before the caregivers do. And if you learn to spot their warning signs, you can also become aware of potential problems both financially and emotionally much faster.

    Great post by the way!

  67. jane

    Thank You for this. My 2.5 year old has been acting out (normal I know, but still hard to deal with) for the past month. This weekend my husband and I tried our best but still got frustrated with him more than we ever had. I even put him in his crib for 5 mins to give everyone a break from eachother. Even though we tried many of the stratigies listed above it was still a tough go. I just try to remind myself that it is a process and with love and attention this phase should pass.

  68. Mel@MySunshine

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I’m in the midst of toddlerhood now and patience is not my strong suit. When times get tough I have to focus on breathing to help calm myself. Doing this helps me get my toddler through the rough patch.

    I’ve also noticed that he teaches me so much about myself and my areas that need improvement. This is a good thing. Staying positive and remembering to breathe are my go-to parenting ideas that help get us through.

  69. RotemZ

    Beautifully written !

  70. Faigie

    Your post brings back real memories Megan. I have 6 children of which the youngest is 14. I learned from my years of my difficult kids how our kids just need us there to be a rock. Not to react or overreact but, to just deal with whatever is happening in a calm fashion. (this is vital for their self esteem)I have a married daughter with a few kids who was one of my more difficult ones. Unfortunately she was our oldest and our guinea pig. I was certainly not the rock I should have been for her..HOWEVER she is the most amazing rock for her own children. So if we mess up a little bit, it doesn’t always mean that it will reverberate for generations.

  71. Emily

    Some of the best advice that I totally needed today, when I had to transition my 2-year-old to a toddler bed right before her nap. (Technically, during the time she was supposed to take a nap and kept climbing out.)

    Living in Connecticut my whole life, I know exactly how to drive in the snow and, like parenting, it took a long time and a lot of mistakes to learn, especially when instincts sometimes lead you in the opposite direction you want to go.

    I hope I can keep this post in mind for the long, snowy road ahead!

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