Passionate About Pittsburgh
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Surviving the Toddler MINE! Phase

“They” say moms have super human strength or reflexes when her child is in danger. When my 5-year-old rolled down that plastic “roller coaster” while his little 1-year-old brother was sprawled across the track crying “NO! MINE!” I flew across the yard and grabbed big brother just before two little arms were run over. This is the epitome of the “mine” stage for us.

I remember the idea of a “mine” stage with my older boy. What I do not remember is this phase being this young, dramatic, prevalent or dangerous as it is with little brother. However, it probably was. Every. Single. Toddler. will go through the infamous “mine” phase at least once. It’s normal. It’s natural. And it may be one of the many reasons there is a four-year gap between my two boys.

I know in three years I will remember the “mine” phase existed. However, I know I will not remember all of the times he cried “mine” while running away with big brother’s Pikachu, Daddy’s dirty sock or my beloved coffee.
For us, the “mine” phases and the “no” phases worked together like a symphony orchestra. They yell, they scream, they cry, they laugh, I cry. Sometimes “no!” Sometimes “mine!” A lot of the time lately it’s been “No, Mine!” Through it all, I have managed to keep all my hair and keep both kids (and my husband) alive. So how am I dealing with this dreaded phase? Wine. Just kidding.

Go ahead, do a web search for tips. Magazines, blogs and even medical organization will offer up their tips. What am I offering you? Real life. Keep reading.

Disclaimer: What works for one child does not always work for the other. And vice versa. Although, I really do hope at least one tip here is helpful.

Number 1
Routine. I have found that keeping a routine in the morning before daycare drop off, at big brother’s baseball games, at the grocery store, before bed, etc. and resulted in less meltdowns, less “mine!” and less “no!” When your child knows what to expect, he or she can make more confident and positive choices.

Number 2
Don’t Argue. Take a deep breath when you feel yourself getting upset or your patience running thin. This one takes practice. No one wins when you argue with a toddler. And when your 5-year-old starts mocking the 1-year-old with “mine! *giggle*” it is not worth the argument.

Number 3
Lead by Example. When your child grabs something of yours (or a sibling’s), use short phrases and say “That is mine, but I will share it with you.” We’ve even taught this to our 5-year-old. The little one loses interest in the object pretty quickly. If “No” also accompanies the “mine,” take a step back and look at how many times YOU say no. Try to rephrase your statements to lessen the use of the word “no.”

Number 4
Pick Your Battles/Strategic Ignoring. This is my go-to when Number 3 doesn’t work out. Somedays it is not worth making each “MINE” a learning opportunity and that is ok. As long as the object isn’t dangerous, it’s ok to strategically ignore the “mine.” I firmly believe if you make a big deal about responding to the “mine,” it makes this phase worse. That toddler WANTS a reaction out of you.

Number 5
Consistency. This is the most important one. If you remove the object from the room when the toddler snatches it from his older sibling, do it every time. If he tries to take a toy to daycare every day and you do not want him to, make him leave it in the car (or home) every day. Consistency breeds routine. And with time, the consistency becomes your friend.

As hard as these times are, remember that “NO!” and “MINE!” are important milestones in your child’s development. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please ask for help. We’ve all been there. It is OK to need a break!

Toddler cries reaching for object.

We’ve been in this stage for a few months now and I can promise you it gets much better and much easier. We do not allow toys to leave home when going to daycare, every day. Does my 1-year-old still pitch a fit? Well, sometimes yes. However, it is not every day and it is not nearly as dramatic as it was a couple of weeks ago. I just pick him up and carry him to the car. By the time we get buckled in, his fit is over. I choose to strategically ignore the fit that ensues.

With time, and some encouragement, both you and your toddler will make it through this phase and onto the next on. Have you been through this phase already? Leave a comment with your tips and tricks to help out your fellow moms!

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