There it is, I said it. That dreaded “t” word…TANTRUM. You’re a parent, so you know what I’m talking about. The screaming and the kicking. The can’t-take-your-kid-anywhere-because-they-are-a-ticking-time-bomb. The “no, I can’t go out tonight because they kids aren’t well,” excuses because really, you just don’t want to have your kid out in public. EVER AGAIN.
I get it. Both of my kids have gone through this sort of tantrum phase, and honestly – it pops back up every now and again still. But let me tell you, there is hope. There are techniques that have proven (in my experience, anyway) to be effective at cutting these tantrums short.
THE COLD SHOULDER
This might have been the hardest one for me to hold to. The last thing I wanted to do when my son was screaming his head off in Target was to keep pushing him along in the cart without saying much of anything. Granted, I already warned him and explained to him why I wasn’t giving him yet ANOTHER cake pop. Since that explanation clearly wasn’t enough to satisfy his 14-month-old questioning, the screaming ensued. And so, he was introduced to the icy burn of the cold shoulder.
This technique can’t be used for an unreasonable amount of time, but in my experience five minutes of ignoring the tantrum starts to convey the message that I’m not giving his tantrum the attention it wants.
THE FALLOUT STAND OFF
Any good tantrum includes a full-body fallout on the floor, with the flailing of hands and/or feet while screaming or crying at full volume. For some unfortunate reason, both of my kids tried this tactic multiple times but I do believe my daughter was the master. Between one and two years of age, she became a professional at throwing herself on the floor in the middle of a tantrum.
It got to the point that the easiest thing for me to do when I was out with her was to pull her over to a safe place, and stand there staring at her. *To be clear, this technique cannot be pulled off with looks of embarrassment or shame. If you are going to stand over your screaming child on the floor, you MUST stand there (possibly with your arms crossed) with a stern look of disappointment mixed with anger. While my daughter was in the middle of her fallout, I reassured her that I was fine to stand here and wait until she was finished, and then we would move on. Luckily for me, this technique worked more often than not, and eventually led to the end of the fallout tantrum.
THE ISOLATION TECHNIQUE
This technique is saved for last, because it is for those of us who – after trying the first two techniques to the best of our ability – haven’t seen much relief.
The Isolation Technique involves hiding out in a comfortable place, such as your home, until a time comes that you feel your child is calm enough to be around other people.
Don’t be ashamed, I spent many days perfecting this technique. Apologies to all of the friends that invited me on playdates or shopping trips that were met with unlikely excuses involving my children (I can’t go out today, err…my daughter just developed a headache and croup sounding cough…). Unfortunately, there are some tantrums that aren’t meant to be quashed. Young children have a hard time understanding big concepts like being told to move on from an activity they enjoy doing, sharing with a stranger, or being told to eat the same food they had three servings of yesterday. Toddler life is HARD.
But so is parenthood! You’re doing the best you can to decipher the babbling of these adorable little people that can’t express their feelings or desires clearly. Take heart! And try to find humor in these difficult days – that’s the only technique that is guaranteed to make this all a little bit easier.