Toddler tantrums are actually a desperate cry for help when all other communication has failed. When you are a toddler you don’t have the words to express your feelings, your brain has not developed logical thinking and you cannot deal with big emotions so this is bound to happen at some point. Emotions just don’t fit the verbal skills and when pointing and grunting won’t do it, a meltdown just has to be the way out.
Incidently, toddlers are not the only ones who have tantrums. Teenagers have them too. This is because of their hormones. The hallmark ages for tantrums, according to Barbara Coloroso, the author of “Kids are Worth it”, is 2, 5 and puberty.
Nicky has been having tantrums for quite some time now and I have come to the following conclusion. All you can do is Connect with him and Detect what is wrong so that you will know better for next time. Plus give yourself some blessed “me-time” or else you will really go nuts.
I normally pick him up to try and calm him down. I try and figure out what he wants and follow that pointing finger.
Sometimes he is so worked up the holding and the calming don’t work. (This is normally because of the sleep factor)
If you are still breastfeeding like me, the boob works wonders. It calms them down right there and then. If you have other sleep calming substitutes – like a dummy, blanket or favourite toy, that will also help. Nicky loves his cars.
The most important thing here is to show the child that you are there for him or her. Just be there. If you are present and open to figuring out what the problem is, you are halfway there. Tell him “I know you are angry and frustrated. But I am here and I’m going to try and help in any way I can.”
If you are in a public place like a grocery shop you will probably just want to get out of there as soon as possible. It also helps to give them a choice or responsible task e.g. “Can you help me find the milk, then we can go?” “Do you want the red juice or the yellow juice?”
When you are in the midst of a tantrum you can do nothing but power through it, and take notes so that next time you can prevent it. Although it isn’t always possible if you have to wake a sleeping toddler…
Here are possible reasons for the tantrum:
-Tired: The number one possible reason is they are sleep deprived or sleep interrupted. Yesterday Nicky refused to nap all day. Then when I went to fetch B from work he fell asleep in the car straight away (even though I had been trying all afternoon to get him to sleep). When we came back and I took him out the car there was a massive tantrum. In retrospect, I should have put him straight to sleep. I just had this feeling he needed food first. I was wrong. He cried his little heart out and got himself so worked up I struggled to calm him down. Eventually I gave him boob and he fell asleep. No food was eaten but since he had had yoghurt beforehand I guess it lasted and he slept the whole night. I was amazed. But I should have listened to him from the beginning.
-Hungry: We have had midnight snacks sometimes in the night because I haven’t given him enough supper. This does not happen often. But if you have been on the go at the shops it helps to have snacks as well to keep the little ones going.
-Thirsty: We had a tantrum the other night because his water had been left behind in the bathroom. I had no clue what he was going on about but he was pointing and crying. I was adamant that we were having no more biscuits and it was bed time but he kept crying and pointing until I opened the door so he could fetch his water. Pour little Nicky, I should have listened earlier.
-I want something (e.g. favourite toy). Nicky loves to take a toy car along with him. I’m sure your child has a favourite toy he will have a tantrum about.
-I’m feeling excluded. When I do an activity with my back to him e.g. at the computer, busy in the kitchen, he can’t see what’s going on and feels left out. So now I let him “wash dishes” e.g. do water play next to me, throw veggies in the pot after I cut them and look at my Facebook feed with me.
3. Mom’s me time. I think the most important thing as a mom is to have confidence in yourself that you can handle it. It is very easy to get swept up in the tantrum and on occasion find yourself crying as well. Remind yourself that you can do this. Laura had a good post on three steps to handle a tantrum – something about locking yourself in the bathroom, having a swig of wine, putting on your helmet and getting back out there again! It is important to make sure that you are nourished, and that you are looking after yourself, or else you won’t be able to handle it either. This is why I am typing this out at “Little Ots” where someone else is looking after my kid so that I can have a break even if he decides not to have a nap.
Like I always tell Nicky as he navigates difficult things: “You can totally do this!”