Saturday, March 20, 2010

Taming The Toddler

Toddlers = tantrums

We're led to believe it starts at two, but really it starts much earlier.  We just overlook it or mistake it for something else.  By two, when they're able to really verbalize wants and needs, then we get it and understand they're just being assholes.

I was just over at Motherhood Uncensored and the poor thing is dealing with a tempermental 18 month old.  My deepest sympathies.  Truly. 

On the morning of Amanda's 2nd birthday she woke up in a bad mood and stayed that way for a year.  My happy, jubilant, carefree baby turned into a raging bitch.  She screamed, cried, pouted, fought, hit, bit, ran wild and was basically horrible.  That's not to say she didn't have her bad moods before turning two, oh no, she definitely did, I just didn't understand that it was foreshadowing for things to come.

Keith was moody to start off with, probably because he had a screaming, bossy, big sister always taking his toys away.  It didn't help that his mom was worn out and just couldn't cuddle him like he wanted (the child was a serious cuddler).

Ian was a cranky, crying, puking newborn that by the time he turned two he was pretty much done with the screaming and transformed into a running heathen.

Sooooooo.... how do you cope?  How do you tame the raging monster living inside your beautiful child?

My first piece of advice is think long and hard about when and why tantrums erupt with your child.  Is there a pattern?  Is there anything you can do to circumvent the meltdown before it starts?   You can't make these observations and come up with strategies in the midst of a tantrum, you have to be armed going in.  What is in your arsenal?

Grandmothers everywhere are tsk-tsking and will tell you the child is just tired.  BAH HUM BUG!

Or maybe they're right?  Of course tossing your child into a bed the moment the hissy starts is bad because you're setting yourself up for a bigger bedtime battle.  But maybe it's time to re-evaluate the sleep needs of your little monster?

You should also look at yourself.  What's going on with you?  Are there some things that don't usually get to you except after work?  Or during shopping excursions?  Or when your spouse is working late?  Basically, is it really YOU that is the asshole in this equation?  I'm not pointing fingers because this was a huge aha moment in my own life.  It was ME being the unreasonable bitch, especially in the mornings as I was trying to rush everyone out the door.  I made a few simple adjustments to my morning routine and suddenly my blood pressure dropped and my kids stopped whining and crying and fussing and fighting (for the most part).

This was my comment on Motherhood Uncensored:
I swore my older two were tag teaming me. As soon as one ran out of new tricks the other stepped in. You have to stay on your toes, pull in other adults and stay creative. Yes, pick your battles, but sometimes what to pick isn't crystal clear.
Kids are screaming? Scream louder, mimic their tantrum. The WTF look on their face is totally worth it and it feels great. Next time? WHISPER (actually it's speaking really quiet). In fact, keep that whisper tactic in your back pocket, it even works with big people. Try it, it's amazing. Another time sit directly across the table with a very straight face and stare at the kid. They will get louder and louder but it will register that the screaming isn't affecting you and they shut up in like 2 seconds. Keep staring until you are sure the screaming won't start up again.
Basically, quit being predictable. I think that's a complete opposite of what all of the parenting experts say, but they're not sitting with a wailing child pissed off about the color of the floor tile. You are. Mix it up.
 So, what is in your arsenal other than time-out?


  1. It depends on which girl is having the tantrum. With my older one, if I have my wits about me, I remember she's a lot like me and I hug her. With my little one, if I send her to her room to have her tantrum, she settles down really quickly. But *my* mood does usually effect them too.

  2. I suggest the mom fill a baby bottle with white wine and consume until the the tantrums seem funny. It works for me on airplanes. Enough cocktails and turbulence is an appealing added thrill. And when I drink from a baby bottle, nobody tries to make conversation with me.

  3. This was so funny and had some great advice!!!
    Love the part about Grandparents!!