Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tantrum Level Midnight

I read in "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" that the peak for tantrums is actually 18 months. By the time I had finally gotten around to reading the book, L. was about 22 months. I heaved a sigh of relief and tore through the book as quickly as I could. After learning how to spot a tantrum before it begins (warning signs are the key, by the way), either her tantrums have gone down on their own because she could communicate more or I'm just that good.

(Note: Pat yourselves on the back every so often. It feels good. And you deserve it.)

That said and pats on the back given, L. still has her fair share of tantrums. Sometimes I can't catch the warning signs early enough, or sometimes something completely out of my control will just set her off. Like yesterday when I made the bold request to unbuckle her car seat (which she normally hates anyway) and go inside when we got home. After hugging her, telling her I knew she didn't want to unbuckle the seatbelt, trying to joke with her, even (yes, I do this in extreme cases) bribing her, she was adamantly fighting me, saying, "No unbuckle! No home!"

So, I mustered up all my strength (I don't just exercise to be healthy, I exercise because my toddler has the strength of an ox when she wants things her way) and wrestled her out of the car, kicking and screaming the whole way across the parking lot, up the stairs and into the apartment, where I promptly set her down on the couch. And she then slid to the floor to continue her tantrum.

I tried the soothing techniques again to no avail. So, it was time to just let her get it out of her system.
If you didn't know any better, you might assume she was breakdancing.

Then, because she realized we were not going to go back out to the car for her to get in the car seat again, she decided she would do it herself. So, she grabbed my purse off the table, knocking everything out of it as she dragged it down the hall toward the door.

In doing so, a lollipop fell out. And she stopped crying.

"Oooh! A pop!" she said, tears vanishing into thin air.

She smiled and looked at me. She clearly doesn't know what one eyebrow up means when I make the "Seriously?!" face because she was bold enough to come over and cheerfully ask, "Open pop?"

I sometimes miss having the audacity of a toddler.

Well, I was able to get her to sit still as I took off her sweatshirt, give her a hug and wipe the snot from her upper lip. She had been coughing earlier and I had already planned on giving her a throat soothing pop so, yes, she did get a lollipop.

I did not get many "Likes" on Facebook when I posted the picture of her with a pop.
Look, Judgy McJudgyParent, sometimes we have sugar in the house.

I think dealing with tantrums may just be one of the most difficult things as parents. And you have to keep in mind they're just as frustrated and their emotions aren't exaggerated in their own heads, so though it might seem illogical, tantrums are the only way sometimes they can express themselves. And sometimes, you just have to let them do it and let them know you're there to comfort them in the end.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Although it seems like they'll never end, the tantrum will eventually be over.
  • Even though it may be the hardest thing to do, sometimes just a big hug and holding them is what they need.
  • Try not to empathize too much. I know it's easy for me to get angry just because L. gets angry, and we just feed off one another.
  • You're not a bad parent if your child has a tantrum.
  • You're not a bad parent if your child has a tantrum. (Repeated on purpose)
  • Sometimes you both just need a break. We've found that a time out sometimes works, even if it's just the two of us sitting across the room from one another and keeping still to get our emotions in check (yes, I participate in the time out, as well).