How Do You Deal With Toddler Tantrums?
My oldest boy is now 17 months old and has been throwing numerous tantrums lately. His cry turns into a loud screaming cry and he buckles his legs and knees at every few steps, whether I'm holding his hand or not. If he is sitting on my lap and ready to have a tantrum, he stiffens his body and slides off of my lap. I never thought, and surely always hoped, that I would be the parent of one of those kids/babies/toddlers that screams and cries out in public when they don't get their way. Luckily, I haven't been out at the grocery store or clothing store while this has happened, but it has happened at two different portrait studios and the playground. When this happens, my thoughts are always, "Are you serious?", "Please God.....is this really happening?"
Understanding the tantrum...
So, clearly the tantrum comes from not being to get your way, when you want it and how you want it. And of course, there is no way a toddler/baby is going to get their way! The parent always knows what's best and does what is best for the child. A perfect and simple example of this is when a temper tantrum is thrown is because he does not want to go down for his nap, even though he has been rubbing his eyes tirelessly.
Tantrums that are a little more complicated are, seeing a toy that you love when out and not being able to play with it or having to sit still when you want to run and play. Those situations sound easy, but for a toddler its not so simple. As the parent, I am trying to understand his point of view. A friend of mine who has 3 boys, told us -after laughing of course- to imagine ourselves playing with something all the time, then going somewhere different, but seeing a toy that looks to be your exact same toy and not being able to play with it. Its almost like a mixed message for them. Also, since the attention spans of toddlers at this age are around 10 minutes, its hard for them to sit still for anything more than 30 minutes (hence the portrait studio after already waiting 30 minutes because the photographer was running late).
Most times, a toddler's cognitive and motor skills develop faster than their verbal skills and the screaming, crying and body fits comes from their inability to communicate what they are wanting to do at that time. This is definitely the case for my oldest!
Dealing with the tantrum....
I am still figuring out a way to deal with these tantrums. I am not enjoying this part of mommyhood at all! I must admit, I probably thought babies and toddlers were like robots and just did what you said with no problems, lol. I really knew nothing about babies, kids, "terrible two's/three's" or anything. I was never curious about it either, but even if I read up on it, I still think that nothing can prepare you for how to deal with this until it happens to you....in public.
So far, if it is a frustration tantrum, I help and talk him threw it, like when he throws a ball out of reach and starts to fake-cry. Now, when it is a manipulation tantrum, which is what he performs out in public, I discipline him by pulling him away from whatever fun things he (we) was doing IMMEDIATELY and scolding him with my words, tone of voice and facial expressions. It is starting to work, but he still tests the system of course. There may be a time, when something more is needed but not right now and he's still too young for 'Time Out.'
My parents told me that my brother and I were always easy, so this must be his daddy's personality coming out. ;-)
He's actually not that bad, but definitely not a robot.