Tantruming Toddlers

May 27, 2010

I felt like the cards were stacked against us today: I am sick, Calvin is cutting his canines and lately he has a propensity to meltdown and lose control.  Despite all of that, we ended up having a great, slow, lazy day. He is at such a great age; easy to care for and fun to interact with. He’s still a little bit of a baby but rapidly becoming a big boy. And with all of these life changes come a stage I had been anticipating with a bit of dread: Tantrums.

Indeed, he had quite a few tantrum-type episodes today – so many that I lost count (5? 6? more?). I have been surprised to discover that this experience is not that bad and not the big deal that I thought it would be. I try to recognize the tantrums for what they are: outbursts of emotion that are beyond his control. I try to remember that he is just a little guy in a big, frustrating world. I know that he will someday learn other ways to deal with his emotions, but in the meantime I need to let him vent his frustration.

I have found that the best way to deal with his tantrum is to sit nearby quietly and wait for it to subside. I don’t leave him while he has his moment; I can tell that he wants me there. I don’t touch him; he has made it quite clear he doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want me to say anything, either. So I just wait. It subsides after a minute or two, and then he usually has a smile on his face and he often runs over to hug me.

Code Name: Mama has written about tantrums lately and her thoughts are very similar to mine. In Riders on the Tantrum Storm, she says:

We do not believe in punishing tantrums. Children are learning how to navigate the world – oftentimes, their emotions overwhelm them. A child in the midst of a tantrum feels powerless and out of control. Punishing tantrums does not “teach” a child anything, other than the fact that they cannot trust their deepest feelings to their caregivers.

I try to remember how I feel when my emotions are out of control. I may be well beyond the toddler years but this is definitely something I still experience from time to time. When I am upset or venting to my husband it would certainly be counterproductive for him to leave the room or to yell at me or otherwise “punish” me. Often I just need to get it out and then to calm down. I don’t think that a toddler’s experience is too much different.


One Response to “Tantruming Toddlers”

  1. Lisa C Says:

    I think you have a very healthy view of tantrums! I don’t find them to be a difficult thing, either. You just allow them to vent, and wait with open arms.

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