I have numerous nieces and nephews and I have seen every single one of them throw some sort of temper tantrum. As I watched the scene unfold I would assure myself that when I had children they would never act that way. I was wrong… so so so wrong.
In approximately a month my son will be two years old and the tantrums can be epic. There are times when we will be going about our daily lives, happy and giggling and then all of a sudden my son will sit down on the floor and start sobbing. The first time this happened I was shocked and all I could think was ,“That escalated quickly”. I’ve asked around and the general consensus is that this is completely normal and all children go through it. In fact there are websites out there specifically dedicated to the random reasons children have a tantrum or are crying.
My son has had temper tantrums over the most minuscule things. I mean he once had a crying fit because he wanted a popsicle… but he was already holding a popsicle. He has cried because I wouldn’t let him eat dog food or chew on the cat’s tail or climb on the kitchen table and jump off. My favorite yet is the day I wouldn’t let him play with a dirty diaper and he was devastated. When he started crying I just stood there and looked at him thinking, “Why are you crying? It’s a dirty diaper, come on kid get it together”.
After the tantrum ended and my son had calmed down I took some time to think about how hard it must be to be two. There is always somebody telling you what to do, how to dress, what to eat, when to play, when to sleep and when to have a bath. I am always chasing him around saying no, eat your veggies, don’t bite the kitty’s tail, don’t eat dog food, drink your milk and the list goes on. Then to top it all off he can’t tell me what he wants or what is wrong. Being two must be immensely frustrating.
I am slowly learning how to deal with the frustration and tantrums. The other day I was watching him colour. He was struggling to hold the crayon the way he wanted and was getting frustrated. I asked him if he wanted mommy to help and he handed me his crayon. I repositioned it in his hand the way he wanted and he started colouring again, this time a much happier little boy.
Another way I try to deal with the tantrums is giving him the opportunity to make some decisions that affect his life. Simple questions like would you rather have water or milk for dinner? Would you rather have peas or carrots for supper? Which t-shirt do you want to wear this morning? Things that seem trivial but it lets my son make some decisions and have a say in his daily routine. While I try to remember why he is so upset and frustrated and how angry and upset I would be if I were in his place there are still times I shake my head at his tantrums. There are instances when he will be losing his mind over something I am not capable of making better for him, like when I won’t let him play with a dirty diaper.
There are other times where I just have to turn away and laugh. Last week we were shopping in Walmart and I wouldn’t let him have a bottle of floor cleaner I had put in the cart and he freaked out screaming and crying. Another mom in the aisle gave me a sympathic look, I just looked at her smiled, shrugged my shoulders and said “must get it from his dad” and carried on with my shopping.
Christina Komives is sales manager for The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.