Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rise of the Tantrum

I've heard about tantrums. I've seen them happening to poor parents in the mall, in Target, in the grocery store. But only recently have I felt some real kinship with those parents, as my young toddler begins his quest to assert himself in as many ways possible.

With the first tantrum, I thought he was just tired. After the second, I bought a book about toddler discipline -- I thought I must've been doing something wrong here. The third tantrum and several others were not far behind. Now they happen relatively regularly as I try to guide my son away from dangers ("No, you may not run into the street...") and towards everyday expectations ("Yes, you must wear pants to daycare..."). Pretty much any activity I would want him to do, he would like to do the opposite, and when I win the battle, well, there's a consequence.

I'm currently trying out the ignore strategy, and the other evening, as he lost it while I was giving him a bath, I picked him up, set him down in the middle of his room in a towel, and walked away. As he realized I wasn't going to watch him roll around on the floor screaming, he proceeded to follow me throughout the house, naked, with his hands in the air, crying all the while. Actually, when I think about it now, he must've been a pretty funny sight. He eventually settled down, we hugged it out, and proceeded with our bedtime routine. A woman recently told me (when C. had decided to demonstrate his new independence in public) that toddlers were so "Elizabethan" with their drama. How true.

This morning my husband turned to me and said, "So is this why people told us it gets harder as they start to walk?" I had to remind him that at least our child is sleeping through the night now (thank goodness), and maybe that's to make sure we have enough rest and patience to deal with his mood swings during the day. I know I'm not the first parent to deal with tantrums, and I'm sure I won't be the last. May all of us get through this phase with our sanity intact.

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