The Battle of the Temper Tantrum


Here we go again. It’s time for the family to leave the house to go run some errands and Sydney thinks it’s the perfect time to take a bath.  Over and over again she asks, “Take bache Mommy?” At first I ignore her, hoping to avoid the result of my negative answer.  Finally, I can’t take it anymore and tell her no, but we can take a bath we come home. At my response, she promptly throws herself on the floor and proceeds to let out a blood curdling scream. Tears are rolling down her rosy cheeks and looks like I just stabbed her or something. I am sure that our neighbors below our apartment think we are abusing our child.

Make no mistake, Sydney could win an Oscar on tantrums alone. At the young age of 1½ , my daughter started acting out these terrible temper tantrums.  The episodes, which appear over her already active personality, usually begin over her not be able to take a bath, brush her teeth, go into the kitchen or when she has to put on her snow suit. I am usually able to get her to calm down by diverting her attention with a toy or scaring the living daylights out of her by getting in her face and telling her to stop it. The tantrums don’t last too long but since she has entered her “Adventurous Twos” (my Mother-in-Law’s term for it), these episodes happen more frequently.

At the end of the tantrum and everything is back under control, I wonder if she understands why she can’t have something or if I just subdued her anger until the next time she can’t have something.

Kimberly Clayton Blaine, author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children, provides 12 ways to keep toddler tantrums at bay:

1. Set limits and expectations all along the way.

2. Don’t let your own issues affect your discipline.

3. When your blood starts to boil, take a grown-up time-out.

4. Keep communicating.

5. Discuss your feelings about what you see.

6. Let children know that parents DO understand.

7. Give the child a good behavior to use in place of the bad one.

8. Redirect your child’s attention.

9. Do what you say you’re going to do every single time.

10. Make encouragement one of your top tools.

11. Take some time to talk it out.

12. Brainstorm ideas for better behavior.

I especially love #3, because sometimes Sydney makes me so angry, I am ready to pack a bag and walk out. Instead, I lock myself in our bathroom (the only room with a lock) and take some deep breaths. The rest of these will come in time because I don’t think that Sydney even understands or is able to fully communicate why she is upset. But by continuing to develop her vocabulary and including her in conversation, I am sure that in time we will be able to accomplish most of the suggestions listed above.

Do you have a suggestion to handle temper tantrums better?  I would love to hear from you!

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