My oldest never had a tantrum in her life. The first time she tried, she was at the store with me. I left my cart full of groceries in the middle of the store, whisked her out to the car, buckled her in, put the radio on and acted like I didn’t notice the tantrum that was to ensue. She never attempted another one. My 15 month old…that’s another story. Diversion, being silly, distraction, nothing I’ve tried has worked so far. She goes all out. Throws herself backwards, kicks, cries, screams… she tests the limits of my patience. Somehow I convinced myself I was immune. I got through 7 year’s worth of parenting without more than a tantrum preview and suddenly I have a tantrum monster on my hands.
It’s very frustrating but more so when we’re out and about. At home I don’t let it phase me. I make sure she’s in a safe place, off of the couch or something she can fall off of. I put a pillow or blanket under her and just let it take it’s course while I watch from afar without her noticing. When she’s done, she’s a soggy snotty mess. I clean her up, and carry on with what I was doing as if I never even noticed.
In public, it’s a whole different story. I know how it is. People are looking at me, judging me, probably thinking my parenting skills aren’t up to par. I see the pity in some faces, and upturned noses in others. I don’t let it get to me because they are just seeing a picture not the whole movie. In our case, the majority of the tantrums are due to lack of sleep. Between her missing on prime nap-time due to our commute schedule and having a big sister, she doesn’t always like to go to sleep when she thinks she’s going to miss out on the fun. When she’s well rested we don’t usually have the tantrum monster come visit.
We went out for a family day recently and when my husband and I sat down to enjoy a drink while our oldest played at some kiddie land, the tantrum monster reared it’s ugly head. It was by far the worst tantrum she’s ever had. She was exhausted, I sat down to nurse her and had to fumble with my shirt, that extra millisecond it took to feed her put her over the edge. She threw herself back, started kicking and screaming. I wasn’t expecting it and didn’t know what to do. We were seated on a patio and I just got up and tried to find the closest area with no one there. I found exactly what I was looking for and laid her down (on the ground in an outdoor area- gross!) I sat down and just let her roll around and cry until she got it out of her system.
People walked by and looked, stared, and laughed. It took everything in me not to cry because I felt like a total failure. I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing though. I’m not sure what the latest parenting advice is on how to handle tantrums but I did what made sense to me. I had her in a safe place, I was close enough for my presence to give her comfort knowing she wasn’t alone but far enough away to where she didn’t feel smothered. When she finally finished, she had all but fallen asleep on the floor. She crawled over to me and pulled herself onto my lap, I stood up with her in my arms and went back and sat down at the table like nothing happened. I proceeded to nurse her for about 0.05 seconds and she was out for hours. By that point I needed a nap as well but we took advantage of the beautiful day and went for a nice long walk. The tantrum was well out of my mind at that point and when she woke up she was her bright, happy, giggly self.
Have you been there and done that with the tantrum phase? Are you there with me now? Do you have advice or words of wisdom for other parents struggling with this phase? What are your thoughts on this post or topic? Thanks for reading!