Brace yourself, folks, we have entered the world of tantrums.  Oh sure, some kids have certainly started well before the 19 month mark, but holy fucking shit, is this some kind of awful roller coaster I’d like to get off.

I guess I always thought tantrums were spawned from “I want this, I can’t have it/you won’t give it to me, now I’m mad.” with a side of “I don’t know how to tell you all of this!”  But RR’s fits are, oftentimes, not related to anything other than just spontaneous melting down.  She also has a lot of words, so it’s usually not a communication gap; although I will say that it’s so much easier to deal with tantrums spawned from “I don’t want to hold your hand, actually, I want to let go and run across the street into oncoming traffic, and you won’t let me and YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER!”  Those tantrums, they suck, but they’re understandable.

We also have ones that involve her grabbing my hand, and trying to lead me somewhere.  Weird, but OK.  I always play along, though – “OK, Let’s go!  Where are we going?”  And she’ll yank on my hand, and then start to emotionally break down as we inch in one direction.  Similarly, this happens when we’re sitting, and she wants to get down, then back up, then down, then back up, no wait, now down, then no, back up then NEITHER ARE OK.

Then, you know, you work the checklist – hungry? wet/stinky? tired? bored? sick? hateful?  But when the only answer is hateful? yes!  Well, we just haven’t found a fix for hateful.  Music helps 80% of the time, but then sometimes that’s even more frustrating because she suddenly hates all of the songs, and none of them are the one she wants to hear.

The books, the people, the internet tell me to talk to her in a loving voice (as if she could hear me over the screaming and crying), and maybe try to rock and soothe her, or lie to her explain to her that I understand why she’s frustrated and upset, which seems all well and good, but the books/people don’t realize that it’s 8am and the time for rocking and soothing is actually time for coat-putting-on, and walking-out-the-door.  Or that it’s 5:15pm, and strapping her in a car seat while she does the Toddler Patented(TM) Straight Back Slippery, there is no time or place to rock and soothe.  Then I’m reduced to using my best WWF moves to get her strapped into her car seat.

My therapist (who does a lot of family therapy) loves to tell me how now is the time to figure out ways to cope with RR’s emotions, since apparently a 19 month old is nothing compared to a 14 year old girl who starts to hate her mother.  Now, give her two to hate.  We’re doomed.

Tips for tantrums?  Or, rather, still loving your child during a tantrum?

Posted on February 9, 2012, in everyday. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I would just pick them up and sing to them. No, I can not sing, but the rocking and humming along with a little singing calms them down, sometimes. I find that miserable stuff, is usually because of being tired with my kids. I would lay down with them too. The music has helped me out as well. The bad thing about tantrums are they will continue, if they are not under control. Now, my kids are 3 and 5 and I tell them to go in the room to finish crying, lol. I say you can cry, but it is too loud for me, so you can you please go in you room to finish crying. They always look at me like “what, this crying isn’t moving you?” Nope. I tell them they are “free to come out when they are finish.” They usually cut it short kinda quick, they realize no one is coming and nothing grand is happening.

    • I love that approach. We had our first tantrum the other day that involved her writhing in anger on the floor. She’s at least small enough for me to pick up and relocate – I can imagine that gets less easy when they’re bigger. Thanks for the insight!

  2. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and never posted, but I have some experience in the meltdown area. My son had them for a while because of sensory issues. We did a few different things. One, we would give him his favorite stuffed animal and pretty much tell him to hug on that for a minute to get over it. His meltdowns were him wanting to hold us and we weren’t going to do that. So, it was a calm voice “when you calm down, I’ll hug you.” And then we figured out that his meltdowns lasted for a while because he had an audience, so we’d take him to his room and give him said animal and leave him there to calm himself down. He could come out when he was done with his fit. Of course, you don’t always have time for this stuff. We really just didn’t want to land in the world of tantrums so we didn’t put up with them at all. We were trying to teach him that that was not the way to deal with his emotions. Oh I also printed off a picture of a few faces ‘happy, sad, mad’ and hung it in the hallway and would get him to show me what emotion he was feeling so that we could work it into a verbal thing. The straight-back full on crazy man tantrum landed him in time out. Sometimes its just a matter of giving them a minute to calm down. Hope any of this random stuff I just wrote helps!

    • Hi there! The emotion picture is a great idea! She’s just getting her brain and mouth connected, but sometimes all that comes out, in a frustrating tone is, “All done! Please! More!” but nothing to all done, please, more about, so my wife and I are left guessing. She’s always been super patient and laid-back, so this crazed toddler is like having a new kid in the house.

  3. I have no tips to offer, just empathy. At 11 months we are already starting to see some of these same behaviors in C…. More so in the afternoon/evening when she is more tired/cranky. I wish Ic ould attribute it all to her massive teething marathon that has been ongoing pretty much since September but I just don’t know…

  4. It’s counter-intuitive, but one book I read said to match their volume because otherwise they just can’t hear you and break out of the state they’re in. So far Noah’s meltdowns seem to be teething related and so pain meds have worked. But there have been a few others, so far I’ve tended to let him stand close and just tell him it’s ok to be mad/sad and slowly figure out what he wants. I was hoping being able to talk would help… 🙂

    Hang in there!

  5. my two year old twins are full-on into tantrum territory, two for the price of one. It’s really frustrating, 90% of the time it’s because one of them has done something the other doesn’t like, and the other 10% is just plain toddler craziness. I haven’t found any good way to handle it, and have to resort to stuffing them in their carseats/stroller/diaper whatever in full twister mode. I guess it’s just an age thing, and it’s GOT to get better. Hang in there!

    • The full twister mode is just impressive. If I can step back from being outraged myself, it’s a site to behold. And I think she’s just frustrated about *something* but that’s where the understanding stops. It’s got to get better.. riiiiight?

  6. Oh gosh, tanrums are the worst! Especially the ones that seem to come out of nowhere. A few random thoughts about our experiences with them:
    -Whenever our little guy (now 3) enters a tantrum-y phase I get terrified that he’s going to be that way for the next year or so. But he usually isn’t. There’s ups and downs, but the full-on, multiple-trantrums-a-day thing doesn’t usually last more than a few weeks.
    -One things we’ve tried is telling him “I’m going to count to 5 and then I’m going to help you. 1…2…3…4…last chance to do it by yourself…5”. His drive to be independent is so strong that he’ll do just about anything on his own rather than letting us help/force him. This at least sometimes helps with the “Straight Back Slippery” (which is an awesome description, by the way). It also helps with the dawdling when we’re trying to get out the door and into the car–he needs to start moving on his own, or I’ll pick him up and carry him, which he HATES.
    Hang in there! It won’t always be like this!

    • Thank you for providing some light! The ones that come out of nowhere.. or that are spawned from something ordinary prompting an extraordinary reaction throw me for a loop. My mother swears that I was an awful baby and toddler, so maybe this mean’s she’ll be a badass adult? Can we think of it that way?

  7. Critter is starting to enter tantrum territory, at least somewhat. Mostly his are currently of the “But I want to dash out into the street/splash around in the toilet/eat an entire box of cookies for dinner/whatever” variety, which… are not fun, but at least you can see what prompted it. Interestingly, they seem to have increased a little since he’s started communicating more. When he knows damn well that we know he wants cookies, and we’re not giving them to him, he can get M-A-D mad. Also, in the past week, he’s started doing the Straight Back Slippery whenever we try to get him into his high chair. Once he’s in, it’s fine. But getting him in requires about six arms and a couple legs.

    I did read somewhere that toddlers are more prone to tantrums (particularly out-of-nowhere ones) when they’re on the verge of major developmental breakthroughs. The frustration of being almost-but-not-quite-there on whatever it is tends to leak out all over.

    Not that any of this is directly useful, but… well, I sympathize. And maybe you can tell yourself (as I tell myself when Critter reverts to crappier sleeping), that RR is on the edge of something amazing, and that this is just the rocky patch you have to get through to find out what it is. Focus on the amazingness to come. I find that at least a little helpful. Sometimes.

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