toddlers and tantrums

May 8, 2014

The dreaded temper tantrum! Its not about if it will happen, but more about when! Every child is going to go through the tantrum phase. Some will start earlier than others, some won't be as bad, some will last five minutes when others will last hours. The best thing I think a parent can do is just to prepare themselves...let me explain. 

I will never forget Ace's first public tantrum. We were grocery shopping in Arizona, I was eight months pregnant with Pierce and Chris was away at OCS. The outing seemed like a normal one. Ace was sitting in the cart happily and we were just checking items off our list. Then we went passed the candy and toy aisle, not that we were buying anything, just kind of strolling from aisle to aisle. When it happened. He spotted a cheap little toy truck that he asked for, and I nonchalantly said "no you don't need that" BAM, screams like I had never heard from my child. Back arching, arms whipping around like a windmill, tears and screams. I was in some kind of state of shock. I just had no idea what was going on. I had never seen this before from him. I did what every rookie young mom would do. I tried to distract him, food you want food? Lollipop? Okay okay here have the damn truck! But it was too far gone, it wasn't about the truck anymore, it was about the fact that I denied him it in the first place. He was outraged. I could feel myself turning red, arm pits sweating, hot flashes, heart racing. My fight or flight instincts kicked in and I grabbed my uncontrollable child and booked it out of there. Left the whole cart full of food, just up and ran! 

Was that the right thing to do? Who knows. Would I do that today? Absolutely not! But I had to learn and grow and get comfortable with myself in order to control my child. It took time, it took a lot more outings and public meltdowns to get to where I am now with the whole tantrum drama. 

Honestly, now tantrums don't really phase me. I have learned that my children feed off of my reaction. So it is more about being able to control my own frustrations and emotions in that moment than my child's. These are little humans we are dealing with here, they have minds of their own. They are filled with emotions and ideas that they are trying to sort out. It is my job to help them sort that stuff out the best way I can. Sometimes they need to just tantrum it out. Now, with that being said I don't just let my kids ruin other peoples time out of their house. If my kids need to be removed from the situation, say at a restaurant, so be it. We will regroup if we need to. If we are at Target (my children's tantrum place of choice) I just keep it moving. Tantrum and everything I just try and get in and get out. For me, I have learned that I am not going to get too many solo trips to run errands. So I have to make the most of the time I have. When a tantrum breaks out I will try and talk them off that ledge, calmly explain to them that they need to control themselves or we will have to leave. This usually works for Pierce. Ace is different, he needs to see real consequences before he will stop. He needs to see that I will follow through with removing him from the situation. As a parent you have to be consistent (took me a long time to learn that one). As much as it will be a hassle to stop what you are doing and follow through with the old "parental threat" it will pay off. We have gotten to a point with Ace that when he does start to throw a fit about something we just start to make the move towards the exit and 9 times out of 10 he will calm himself down. 

This is the same with at home. If fits of rage start to break out we just remove whichever child from the situation. Whatever toy is being fought over gets eliminated from the equation. If they need to just throw themselves on the ground and flop around like a fish for a few minutes, we make sure they are in an open area to do so. No need to add an injury to the chaos. My kids have been heard telling one another "otay just scweam it out". I have seen that when I give them more attention while they are raging against the machine it just makes it more intense. If I ignore them, walk away, and just let them figure it out it seems to stop much faster. I don't want to give them attention for bad behavior. 

In my very limited parenting experience I have seen a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel. Ace at four is extremely different than Ace at two. Even with Pierce his tantrum heyday was at about 20 months. Now he is much less extreme, and much more "controllable". I have also seen a huge change within myself as a parent. I have to keep my cool as best as I can. It doesn't always work....I am human after all and sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But it is all just one big work in progress! 

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Running From The Law             The Olive Tree          

May 8:          Taming the Temper Tantrums
May 15:        Weaning from Breastfeeding or From Formula to Cow’s Milk 
May 22:        Dealing with Mommy Guilt
May 29:        When People Share Their Opinions and How to Lovingly Handle it
June 5:         Traveling with your Toddler
June 12:       How to get your toddler to eat their veggies…or their food at all
June 19:       How to make time to blog in the busyness of motherhood
June 26:       Bedtime Battles (nap or bedtime)

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  1. Great post. I love that you have 2 kids to draw experience from and that they are so different. Great advice to just eliminate the problem toy from the situation and follow-through on threats. I need to be better about both.

  2. This is great advice! You are so right when you say that kids feed off of a reaction.

  3. DEFINITELY not looking forward to temper tantrums.
    I've heard that about your reaction and how they feed off of it. Common sense HEARING that, but I'm sure it's a whole different ballgame once you're actually in the situation itself. Be prepared for numerous texts when I actually procreate and this happens to me ;)

  4. Love this. :) I totally agree with you when it comes to eliminating the problem. I've had to do that so many times :)

  5. My daughter was never much a tantrum least nothing too bad. My 8 month old, on the other hand...I can see being a problem already. I will have to refer back to this post when my first epic meltdown happens in Tarjay.

    1. Okay D doesn't count because she just seems like a dream boat :) But boys are super fun. Haha!!!

  6. Ohhh yes. The tantrum. It's my favorite thing next to potty training. You know what Letty does that is a real gas? She stops breathing. Not kidding. Goes limp. Eyes in the back of her head. Blue lips. Our pediatrician said to ignore it as long as she is safe. Talk about panic. That girl knows how to freak me out.

  7. Looooove this! I often forget how easily Mia feeds off of my emotions. Keeping mine in check will definitely help smooth over the rough moments... at least in my state of mind. And like you said, it's okay if Mia needs to flop around like a fish for few minutes (bahaha. Can't stop laughing over that one. Mia has started doing that in the last 2 weeks and I seriously have to leave the room and laugh in private!)

  8. Haha, I love your parenting! I really really love that your boys tell each other just to scream it out. I'm going to have to remember that. When Ais melts down, I could care less. It doesn't phase me at all! Hopefully we will keep it that way.

  9. I love it, good job. Following over from Life of Faith swap!

  10. We are just starting to get into the tantrum phase at 13 months {very minor at this point}. I am not looking forward to the full on tantrum in public days, but it sounds like you handle it so well!

    1. Thanks, it was an uphill battle. Ha! I used to get so nervous about it, but it is all part of this parenting game.

  11. I love your metaphor "trying to talk them off the ledge", hahahaha, that is SO what it feels like. I agree with you on every point though, I've found that I just pretty much ignore them at home and the flame dies out quicker that way. In public, I do the same as you. Good to know that the storm calms somewhat around 4, thank God!



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