I’ve been linking up some of my mommy posts over at one of my favorite blogs, Pardon My French, because she’s doing a link up series about all things toddler related. My whole life revolves around toddlers right now so it’s kind of one of my favorite subjects to talk about…mainly to seek out solace and sympathy from other moms who are in the same boat, weathering the same choppy waters with me!I have a three year old and a one year old, both boys.I remember when my older one had his first tantrum…that’s how traumatic and shocking it was for me. He was nineteen months old and we were at the park. I was four or five months pregnant. I gave him our usual warning that we were going to leave in a few minutes so he could mentally prepare. It had always worked…until today. He didn’t want to leave and started loudly protesting. I was a bit taken aback and felt bad for him, so we stayed. Thirty minutes later we had ended up under a tree for shade, about fifty feet away from the park because everytime I tried to get him to leave, he screamed; this was was not going well. Long story short, I carried him home in the heat, kicking and raging against my pregnant belly, while he screamed at the top of his lungs. It was a special moment to remember!
These days, something like that rarely happens cause I know what sets him off and can usually preempt crazy tantrums like that (although I have walked home pushing a stroller with a stumbling, screaming toddler behind me, smiling and waving at neighbors like nothing crazy is happening). Dacky, my 16 month old, hasn’t really had a for real tantrum yet and so I don’t really know his “tantruming style”. So far, they both react differently to me so I’ll definitely have to figure out what best helps Dacky through a tantrum and what sets him off.
But I just remember thinking when the tantrums really started, “Why is he so angry? Where have I gone wrong?”
Nothing! They’re just a ball of emotions and want some control over themselves but don’t yet know how to express any of that.
This was Piggie’s tantrum today:
He wanted “chokkit”. I said he could have a cheese sandwich or spaghetti.
Kicking the wall ensues. He wanted CHOKKIT. “No sandwich!” he said. I told him I thought he loved cheese sandwiches and spaghetti.
Trying to bargain with him. Chokkit after you eat a cheese sandwich or spaghetti?
Hmmm…not going over so well…
He’s a bargainer too. He said “No sandwich, just the cheese.” You got a deal, buddy!!! I put together a little meal around cheese and he was happy, he even forgot about the chocolate.
I tried to do a lot of reading about tantrums before Piggie started having them, cause I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I did pick up some good info, like that they are full of emotions and don’t know how to deal with them. It’s not just a battle to disrespect or manipulate you. I read it’s best to get down on their level and talk to them and say what you’re guessing they’re feeling so they can put feelings with words and learn to express themselves. That works sometimes too, like when I say “Aww, that makes you mad doesn’t it? Mommy shouldn’t do that, I’m sorry.” And you may think before they talk much that they aren’t understanding you, but when they do start to talk they will use those words you helped them with for so long. They definitely start understanding and putting the words with their feelings long before they start actually using them verbally.
Sometimes they just need to be put to bed or fed. Or they need to be removed from a store, ASAP.
And sometimes it seems nothing works. Talking to him only makes him scream louder. Or I’m beyond exhausted cause it’s his millionth tantrum of the morning and I have to ignore him for the sake of my sanity. I just keep doing what I was doing and keep him in the corner of my eye to make sure he’s not going to accidentally hurt himself or his little brother.
He’s human, I’m human. We survive the best we can on hard days.
But I found the best thing for Piggie during those times when I can’t handle his tantrum, is to apologize. After he seems to be calming down, I’ll tell him I’m sorry and that I love him, especially if it was a particularly bad tantrum. I want him to know that it’s okay to have all these feelings, and that even if I can’t handle them in the moment, I still love him.
Are you currently in tantrum territory? Or maybe you’re a veteran? How do/did you prefer to handle tantrums?