Mama told me a tantrum story the other day...
She took Beatrice to the playground where they usually go two to three times per week -- swings, slides, sandboxes and lots of climbing fun.
We have a bag of outdoor toys she brings for Bea as well, including digging tools and bouncy balls.
There was another little boy playing with a pink ball.
Bea's ball was red.
Bea wanted the pink ball.
But by that time it was time to leave, so Mama gathered up all the toys and grabbed Bea's hand to take her to the car.
Then the toddler tantrum erupted, red face seethed with tears spilling from her eyes, angry babble shooting from her mouth.
She broke loose and ran toward the boy with the pink ball.
"Beatrice, come back here! We're leaving, sweetie."
No effect. Mama had to run after Bea and scoop her up.
Molten lava oozed from Bea's every pour.
They walked away and Mama put her down. Zoom -- she was off again to the boy with the pink ball.
Now, I don't know if you've ever picked up an erupting, almost 30-pound toddler before, but try doing it when you're 8 months pregnant with a bag of toys in the other hand.
Mama ran after her and scooped her up again.
New islands formed in the seas of Bea's angry tears.
This time Mama got farther away from the little boy with the pink ball, thinking that it was far enough to put Bea down and get her closer to the car.
Zoom -- back she went to the boy and the pink ball.
Exasperated and exhausted, Mama ran to get Bea again and this time hauled her all the way back to the car, Bryce getting a drive-by belly thrashing along the way. She strapped Bea into the car seat and gave her a hug and a kiss.
Lava buried the back seat and flowed into the front.
"I love you, baby. Let's go home."
Tantrums. Can't live with them. Can't live without them.
Bea's are usually short-lived. Usually. With rare exception as related above.
We were just asking each other last night what to do, what to do...
On Parenting.com, another mother did ask Dr. Sears:
My 17-month-old's tantrums have become absolutely intolerable. He cries hysterically until, within a couple minutes, he throws up. The only way to calm him down is to distract him or to give him whatever it is he wants. I know it's not good for me to cater to his every whim, but I get so frustrated, I don't know what else to do. How can I temper my son's excessive tantrums?
Throws up? Good God.
We're pretty darn lucky.
You can read his detailed answer here, but here are the bullets to consider:
- Identify the triggers. Is he tired, bored, hungry, or frustrated?
- Identify the purpose of the tantrums. Tantrums come in two forms: frustration tantrums and manipulative tantrums. Know the difference.
- Teach him alternative ways of expressing his feelings. Part of childhood development is learning what language gets one's needs met and what doesn't.
- Know your anger tolerance. If you lose patience easily when your child throws a tantrum, know when to walk away. (But not literally in a crowded mall or congested intersection.) Count to 10 and take a deep breath. Know the difference.
- Know when to intervene. In extreme cases, "holding therapy" works best. Hold your child in a relaxed and comforting way (even if he squirms) and reassure him with the most soothing voice you can muster. (We've done that. Mama has more luck than me, though.)
Dr. Sears writes, "Temper tantrums usually end between 18 months and 2 years of age, when a child develops the language skills necessary to express his feelings with words rather than actions. So when you're at your wit's end, remember: This too shall pass."
Most of the time we can let her go and ride them out. Then all is well again. As if nothing ever happened.
Until the next time, when 20 minutes after we put her to bed, she howled and cried and then writhed in our arms -- lava everywhere!
Let's work on those words, Beatrice.