In Leo’s first sixteen months he has taught me many things.
Right now, I am in the middle of a crash course, how to share your house with a temperamental toddler. One minute things are fine, everyone is smiling, laughing even, then, BOOM! Suddenly out of nowhere, the toddler erupts and you don’t know what, or how things went so wrong so quickly. Tantrums aren’t reserved just for the house either, the car, the park and the supermarket are all fair game. Many times in the last few weeks I have been the mum that other mum’s look at with pity. While my child has clearly got the better of me in public and all I wish for is to be at home, where no one else can see me or my child, no one else witnessing his meltdown. Why was I so foolish to think that I did not have to worry about this until two years old? It is called the terrible twos, not the terrible sixteen monthers.
So what have I taken out of this crash course you may wonder? What can a small child who is on a constant roller coaster of emotions possibly be teaching me? There is a list that could go on for days but here are the top things that Leo has taught me about tantrums so far. Yes, we still have many more months of learning to come and I am sure that there will be another tantrum related post to come, but at this stage, this is what I know…
Ignorance is bliss
The one big thing I am learning is that tantrums stop pretty quickly when they are ignored. As sad and as hard as it is as a parent to stop making eye contact and walk away from your crying child, it is by far the most effective way to stop them in their tracks. This tactic is only easily used in the comfort of your own home, doing this in a park or supermarket is
impossible hard, to say the least, although I have seen it done, I have not yet successfully been able to walk off from Leo in a park, pretending that he would be left there if he did not ‘come with me now’.
Have a good grip
When picking up a crying, tanty throwing toddler, get yourself a good grip. Legs will fly, backs will arch, heads will be thrown back and arms will go up in the air. Toddlers are strong-willed. They know what they want and if they want to be on the floor kicking and screaming then they will try with all their might to get back on that floor.
Distraction is golden
It may only work six times out of ten and I have said it before, but distracting a child can work miracles. Maybe all you need is a whisk that they haven’t seen in a while, but if it is the difference between a very messy and difficult nappy change or a quick, stress free one, then why wouldn’t you have a stash of random utensils hidden in your child’s room?
Toddlers are strong
Another reason you need a distraction. Leo is so strong. Who would’ve thought a one year old could out muscle a twenty-eight year old, but the sad truth is, he does it quite easily. Of late, getting him in the car has been a nightmare, so much so that I have opted to walk everywhere rather than drive when I am home alone and would have to put him in the car without the strength of my husband at home. I don’t know if I have learnt anything to get around this point, rather just giving you the heads up, toddlers can be stronger than adults and there is absolutely no shame in admitting that.
Tantrums come from nowhere
‘Why are you upset?’ A question that I find myself asking at least twice a day. Yes, sure, some tantrums are warranted, leaving the park, or coming inside at dinner time when he wants to play, but some are completely and utterly out of the blue. Some of my favourite reasons for tears so far have been:
Deciding he doesn’t want his shoes on two seconds after he asking me to put his shoes on him.
Choosing the wrong Wiggles song to put on the iPad (How I could think anything but Rockabye Your Bear is acceptable?).
And putting the lid on the container of peanut butter.
So there you have it, a short insight to what I have been dealing with of late. There is a good reason they are called the terrible twos and I am beginning to see why. Don’t get me wrong, most of the day Leo is wonderful. An easy, happy and busy boy, it’s just those moments when he switches, decides it might be nice to push the boundaries, test the limits and do everything he is supposed to do as he approaches the age of the terrible two.