Mommy VS. Toddler: Tantrums

It's been a while since I wrote one of these posts, it's not that I didn't want to, or that life magically became perfect, life just got in the way and so here I am writing furiously while the Little Guy gobbles down his snack. 

Something that all kids go through is Tantrums. These began shortly before the little guy turned two. I like to think that these tantrums can be put into 2 categories: Tiny Tantrums and Explosive Tantrums. Tiny Tantrums only last a few seconds where as the Explosive Tantrums last for what seems like forever.

It's hard for little ones to express themselves before they can really talk. They may have a few words in their ever growing vocabulary but often it isn't enough to get their point across. In our house when the little guy gets frustrated he screams. By screaming I mean blood curdling screams that you would swear were the end of the world. 

At first the screams started out because he discovered that he had a voice and could change the pitch. He would scream just for the sake of being loud. Now those screams come out when he is angry and frustrated. 

Toddler Tantrums can come about for any reason, I like to joke that it can be anything from the sky being blue to an uncomfortable shirt. They have no understanding of the word patience, so maybe they asked for something and you are in the midst of getting it and they are now losing their minds because they have no concept of time and expected it the minute they ask. Silly trivial reasons, but to a toddler it's very serious business. It's a rough life being 2 years old, your parents change your diapers (if you are still in diapers), you are loved, you are fed and cared for. Quite the rough life - insert eye roll here. 

Now we all know that during tantrum if you give in, generally the tantrum ends and sometimes just sometimes it's easier to give in than to listen to the wailing and screaming. I know that I have definitely been guilty of giving in from time to time. However that being said I refuse to have my life ruled by a "tiny tyrant". He will never learn if all I do is give in so I have to stand firm, no matter how cute he is.

Sometimes we can try and talk our way out of the tantrum, I can try my hardest to explain to the toddler and try to bring him back to a calm state. (Sometimes it feels like talking to a wall, but I will at least try.) My other tactic is time out. We have a designated time out chair/area. I remember with my oldest he did not do well with time out. He actually broke the time out chair we had at the time. He was thrashing and rocking his head so much he put it right through the wicker on my antique chair. (Hindsight we realized that time-outs don't work the same way for our oldest due to the Autism). The youngest however, if during the beginning stages of a tantrum if asked "do you need a time out?" is usually enough to get it to stop. However there are those times where a time out is needed. He will either sit on a time out chair or stand in a corner or section of wall. He may continue to scream for a second or two but usually within a minute begins to calm down enough for us to talk to him and the time out is over. In order to get off time out you must calm down first. (funnily enough he will stand against any surface with his head against the wall)

I think the most difficult part of tantrums is when they happen in public. We have all witnessed it, a child in the midst of a meltdown in the middle of the store or a restaurant. Often times those poor parents get the brunt of searing gazes from other patrons. I always try to give a sympathetic smile to the caregiver. I've been in their shoes and I know it isn't easy.

If you are a parent you know full well what a tantrum in public can be like. You can picture it, a cart full of groceries and a toddler who is angry because you won't let them throw the groceries out of the cart, or buy some random object they see on the shelf. Or they want something opened but you tell them that they have to wait until you pay. They are thrashing in their seat, kicking their feet, crying and screaming. You are doing your best to try to get them to calm down. You may be making your way to the check out or already standing in queue to cash out. Employees and patrons of all ages are staring. Some rolling their eyes. You have those who don't have children, saying loud enough for you to hear that "they would never allow their children to act like that in public". You are starting to sweat, you are trying to keep your cool as you load groceries from the belt into the cart the child still thrashing around. You are trying to balance it all and you finally pay and push your screaming child toward the exit. It feels like a walk of shame. 

If this were to happen in a restaurant, (on the off chance that we do go out to eat in public which is like never) if I couldn't have gotten him to calm down I would have taken him outside to try and calm him. But in Wal-Mart it's difficult when you have a cart full of groceries and your bag is buried under the mountain of food. Again I also refuse to give in to my kid. He will not win. 

This happened over March Break, we went to Kids Kingdom, an indoor play place. The boys had played for almost three hours and there was a blizzard outside. I wanted to get on the road. They had got their prizes from the arcade and I had put them in my bag, the youngest was asking for his ball. I told him he could have it in the car, we had to get ready to go. Well here comes the full on melt down. Screaming kicking his feet etc. I tried to explain to him over and over in as calm a voice as possible. I felt like I was talking to the wall. He got angry and frustrated enough he flung his arms and hit me, so I made him stand against the wall for a time out while I gathered my things. He proceeded to scream even louder.

This is where my favourite part comes it. The Judgemental stares from other patrons. I can't just walk out and leave. I need to find my oldest in the crowd of kids and I still had to change the little guys diaper, all while he cried and screamed and thrashed on that flimsy wall change table. I endured the looks from all those patrons: Parents, Grandparents, Caregivers, and employees, all while I tried to walk calmly through the place holding my mid-tantrum child to leave, to give reprieve to these people, only to find the gate is locked. It requires a pass-code that an employee must enter, but she is busy helping kids at the prize counter. This place is locked up like Fort-Knox, the little one is still screaming and crying, the oldest is trying to help console him, all while asking me a hundred and one questions and I'm on the verge of snapping.  The woman in front of me, also waiting to leave is giving me a death glare and tries to give a stern look of disapproval to the young guy (I'm sure in hopes of getting him to stop screaming) who just screams louder in her face. At that point I laughed and turned and said "I'm sorry I suppose your children have never thrown a fit".

We finally are able to get to our coats and boots and I haphazardly dress both kids and exit the building. I managed to get him into his car seat, and finally get him to calm down. I give him his ball and all is well with the world. Sure I could have given it to him inside, but that's not how life works. I still see all those glares from those people. We should be building each other up not tearing each other apart. 

Stand firm, those toddler tantrums are sometimes relentless. They are trivial and can happen at any time and anyplace. One day the screaming and temper tantrums will end, and change how they manifest. It's all par for the course. One day I will miss the screams and little tantrums. Today however, is not that day.

~Mommy Dearest

Comments

  1. Some time ago I would have scrolled past your post with a smile on my face saying out loud that I don't need to read this as my now 6 year old has never ever had a tantrum. But now my youngest one is about to turn two and I can see some attitude coming out, so I figured I'll just read this so I don;t feel so alone LOL

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    1. My oldest was an angel in comparison. He rarely threw a huge tantrum. The youngest however seems to have them more often than not. My oldest certainly has meltdowns but they are spectrum related and aren't the same as the toddler tyrant. Like I said above it's all par for the course. Some kids don't do it, and other's look out. Good luck and know that you are not alone!

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  2. I survived tantrums with my now grown kids. I remember how stressful it could be at times. And then I had grand kids. And one of them has an attitude problem at a young age. I'm reading everything I can to try to help her learn to control her temper. I've got to take you advice and stand firm during them, or I'm going to age real fast, lol.

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  3. I don't have kids but this seems like the hardest part of parenthood. I was a major drama queen as a toddler so I definitely would not want to have to be mom to a kid like me lol!

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  4. After five children I am very familiar with tantrums! My youngest three are 3, 4, and 5 and between them we have tantrums on some level every day!

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  5. I'm thankful my son is now 30. When younger he may have had a couple of tantrums but nothing like you described. More of a sulking and stomping his feet. I hope they soon stop for you.

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  6. Standing firm when a toddler is having a tantrum is one of the best things you can do. If you don't they will think that they can do this to get what they want if you give in.

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  7. Oh, I remember these days! I have 3 kids, 1 with autism, 1 with a language disorder, and one with ADHD, tantrums were never fun. Stand firm, take a breathe and just get through them. You are so right they are relentless for little munchkins lol.

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  8. Toddler tantrums are so rough! I definitely don't miss those days!

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