Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Terrible Two Tantrums

My older daughter is now almost three years old.  I think she hit the "terrible two" stage when she was around 18 months.  So what is this stage about?

I think this is a challenging time for toddlers and caregivers because there is so much growth, change, and development!  The toddler brain is really like a sponge soaking up and processing so many new words, feelings, and experiences.  Realization about their individuality leads to pushing boundaries.  What's more, it is difficult for a toddler to control their emotions.  So as a result, you can have crazy silly laughter one minute and a total meltdown a second later!

This is also a very fun stage where the most amusing and sometimes very insightful things get said.  All in all, I do like this stage because there is so much meaningful conversation with my little girl.  At the same time, I need to be one step ahead of her and she needs to know who is boss.  Otherwise, if unchecked, the child can easily turn into a "crying brat who always gets her way".

So tricks to dealing with a toddler in the midst of a tantrum?  For me, it helps to step back a little and try to differentiate between a manipulative tantrum versus a frustration tantrum.  Is my child throwing this fit just to get her way or is she throwing a fit because she is frustrated that she is not getting her way?

I do not want her to get the message that all she needs to do is throw a tantrum to get what she wants.  So I try to stay firm with my decision.  If I said "no" to something and now she is throwing a fit.  Well, she needs to know that I will not change my answer to "yes" just because she is throwing a fit.  So in those circumstances, I tell her firmly my answer and reasons and essentially wait out or ignore the tantrum until it passes.

Now most of the time, my child tantrums because she is unable to achieve whatever it is that she had set her mind to... so more out of frustration.  I try to help her in those situations but it is tricky because she will melt down if I try to help too much.

Bottom line... it is all an art.  I do have to stay calm as a parent.  Otherwise it may just escalate the situation.  Identifying tantrum triggers and trying to avoid them is key.  At the same time, giving her something to do and keeping her mind, body, fingers busy is helpful, too.  Fun times...