O no! I almost feel like running and hiding in fear because my delusions of having creating a perfectly well tempered and calm angel child may just be evaporating out of the window.
Hands up if, when you had a baby, you thought that keeping it alive was going to be the hardest thing there was and that if you managed that, then that’s when you’d work everything else out?! Ok, not alone there then (I hope you all put your hands up!). After that comes feeding, weaning, sleep patterns etc and then when you feel like you have created a beautiful, adorable smiling little person…then, comes the tantrum!
It should have it’s own theme tune… a steady and quiet build up and then loud wailing sirens with a neon flashing sign; “I’m a toddler and I scream and stamp my feet, GIVE ME WHAT I WANT”. And… what’s more is that initially they fool you, o these little ones, they are clever. They test the water for a couple of months, just a little shriek here and there to test the reaction. I cannot decide what the appropriate reaction is, needless to say, they don’t stay so small and tolerable.
Soon, they become monster tantrums. Mouth wide open, red in the face (think red velvet cake!), tears flowing down the cheeks, little feet stomping away. Any why? What did I do that was so terrible? Well, being the awful mother that I am, I wouldn’t let Sprog into the kitchen without one of us present….dun dun daaa!!!
Then there was the one where the hubby had lovingly made him a sandwich and I’d given it to him with mini cheddars and cucumber (theoretically all his favourites). This one involved throwing his head back against the high chair repeatedly. And violently.
There was also the one where I’d taken him for a walk in his sling to calm him down, he was nice and snuggly, and cosy until we walked past the gate to our local park. I didn’t go in, it was dark and I could hear the distant giggles of teens hanging there, as one does. He pointed, he squeaked, I stopped, he pointed again, I said that we weren’t going there now as it was dark, he pointed again, screamed, threw his head back and trying to jump from the sling. I started walking again.
It got me wondering about how we react, how we should react and what on earth we do when all else fails?! I have tried all variety of tactics today. There was just ignoring it and carrying on. All went well until he nearly stopped breathing (this was early on in the day when the scream didn’t pierce through every ounce of my being). I tried offering hugs which went well for 30 seconds until he decided to wander off, and after another 30 seconds, start crying again. I tried taking him for a walk to get some close Mama and Sprog time which was fine until he saw something else that he wanted.
After today, my heart is a little bit broken. I want so much to help him feel better but I don’t know where I lie on this one. I suppose a more traditional approach would be to not react or say “no” firmly and teach him that are boundaries and I am absolutely all for boundaries and routine. However, part of me which is a bit more attachment parenting inclined wants to hold him close until he stops crying and is soothed and content. Today tells me that he might be smaller than me but he is blooming strong and that I probably shouldn’t pick him up against his will unless there is a serious risk involved.
As we walked, he did calm down (after the park incident) and he happily waved at all the dogs we passed, although started squeaking when he went out of sight, he did snuggle into my scarf and we had some lovely quiet time with just the two of us. But I can’t bring myself to think that this is an entirely sustainable or helpful reaction in the long term. I would rather tackle the cause of the tantrum. Today that could any number of things – teething, cold, cough, no afternoon nap, being weirded out by sleeping for an extra hour (dear lord I hope I haven’t raised a monster!)…or just deciding that today was the day that everything would change!
Added note: if you were hoping to find some solutions to tantrums check out this post, ToddlerCalm was a life saver for us!