You can see glimpses…the cherub face contorts for seconds at a time giving you a preview of the hell to come.
The tiny body stiffens, the voice gets louder and before you know it you are witnessing the massive meltdown indicative of the ‘terrible twos’.
The thing is, many people coast through the moods of a two-year-old without any battle scars – claiming victory in parenthood.
Then three hits, and WHAM, they get the full force of what they’ve been missing.
I remember Hubby and I thinking we must be truly marvellous parents as our firstborn seemed to sail through the ‘terrible twos’ – not realizing that three was, in fact, The Perfect Storm.
The fact is there is no escape. I’ve yet to meet the child that doesn’t have these meltdowns.
Researchers in America asked parents about their children’s tantrums to get some statistics.
According to the research, one-year-olds had two-minute tantrums about eight times a week compared with two to three-year-olds whose tantrums had escalated to four minutes, six to nine times a week.
It is amazing how these tiny creatures can have tantrums that would make a psychopath shake, with mood changes that challenge the sanctity of menopause.
I’m sure it’s a three-year-old who gave Robert Louis Stevenson the idea for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
THE PERFECT STORM
Our lovely three-year-old Goddess is excelling in this department at the moment.
She will belly laugh so hard she snorts and has everyone around her laughing as though she is conducting an orchestra.
Her smile is like a burst of sunshine that comes straight from her soul.
Her happiness is so contagious, but in the blink of an eye, she will have a meltdown of mammoth proportions, leaving you to wonder which one of you has lost your mind.
After the thundering noise of stomps and bangs, after tears that flow in flood-like proportions, the sun shines once again as she smiles and declares; “I’m happy now”.
If you are silly enough to refer to that scary and hideous storm she will tell you;
“I’m happy now. You BE happy”.
And we do as we are told and bask in the warmth of her sunshine smile until the cumulonimbus clouds start to form again.
To any mums of toddlers reading this, I’m here to tell you it gets better.
SO WHY DO TODDLERS HAVE TANTRUMS?
The easiest answer is that they haven’t yet got the language skills to express their feelings.
It’s a tough age because just as they are gaining the independence that comes with walking and talking, they are constantly being told “don’t do that” and “no” – often to keep them safe.
This results in extreme frustration which they cannot communicate calmly – so the storm rages.
CAN YOU AVOID TANTRUMS?
Not really. In the case of our beautiful Goddess, there isn’t even time to see those cumulonimbus clouds forming before the lightning and thunder strikes.
The good news is, you can manage them.
HOW TO DEAL WITH TODDLER TANTRUMS
- If you are lucky enough to get any warning before the storm hits you can prepare and minimise the damage.
- Be aware of your child’s feelings – are they tired, hungry, hot, cold? These things are easily fixed. Reduce the stress around your child as much as possible.
- As often as possible, offer your child choices rather than issuing orders which could result in the frustration that triggers a tantrum.
- There are so many reasons we need to tell toddlers ‘no’, so whenever possible and safe, give them some extra freedom so there are not so many constraints to fight against.
- The best advice is to stay calm – often easier said than done when the storm is so intense, but your calm will wear off on the child eventually just as a stressed reaction can escalate the tantrum.
- If the child is not hurting themselves – banging their head on walls and floors, for instance, the best option is to wait it out. Ignoring bad behaviour and rewarding the goodwill minimise the frequency of outbursts.
- Try not to take any of it personally, remember it is a natural progression of growing up and a stage that will pass. Tantrums are not a reflection of your parenting skills.
- Make a plan for dealing with tantrums – your plan B – so that you are not emotionally blackmailed into giving in to unrealistic demands.
- Distractions can work wonders if you are lucky enough to get an early storm warning.
- Don’t reward bad behaviour by giving in to stop the outburst. This will only make life harder for you next time and sends the wrong message to the child.
- Finally, ignore judgers who may give you nasty looks and comments – they clearly do not understand the phenomena of The Perfect Storm.
How do you deal with The Perfect Storm?
Come back Wednesday for a wonderful craft project that could just help end the storm.
Wishing you fair weather and a gleeful week, Tamuria.