Some of you may already know I am a mom of a sweet two-year-old who I affectionately refer to as “ Chickpea.” Well, I don’t know what the hell has happened to that sweet little girl. Recently, it seems that my sweet Chickpea has been overcome with major temper tantrums on a daily basis, I have gone so far to nickname her alter-ego “The Terra-Moto.” I guess I have to accept the fact that Chickpea had officially entered the “Terrible Twos,” which I think should be renamed the “Tumultuous Twos.”
At this point, I would like to know when my child was switched with this new cranky monster that lives to torture her mommy. Alright, I know I am being a bit dramatic, but anyone out there living with a 2year-old knows exactly what I am talking about. It feels like my sweet little Chickpea has a split personality -- kind and adorable one minute, a wicked little beasty having a tantrum the next.
This all came to a head when I was out having lunch with Chickpea at one of our usual spots. A few minutes into lunch, she started whining for something, I tried to understand what she was wanting by asking her to use her words so I could understand her. This did not seem to work, and only added to her frustration, and she continued to escalate. At this point she was so worked up that there was little I could do to “bring her back,” so I made the decision to pay the bill and just leave. As I literally dragged her out of the café kicking and screaming, and after I struggled to get her safely into her car seat I began to drive home. It took about 20 minutes to get home, and yes you guessed it she screamed the whole way. I have to admit by the time we got home, I was ready to put myself in a timeout just to cool off. They aren’t kidding folks when they say parenthood is full of ups and downs as clearly demonstrated by Chickpea’s mood swings, and temper tantrums.
Following this episode I wanted to place a n ad on Craig’s List that read: “ Beautiful and sweet 2yr old girl and 529 account included” instead I decided to do some research, and advice searching to find out how does one survive this stage of parenthood, and still feel like they are being a good parent. I hope you enjoy the following bits of information, as I have found it helpful and at times have saved me from giving Chickpea to Gypsies’ (Just Kidding, no need to call child services).
Why do tantrums happen?
A tantrum is the expression of a child's frustration with the physical, mental or emotional challenges of the moment. Consider this: Most 2-year-olds have a limited vocabulary. Parents may understand what a toddler says only 50 percent of the time. Strangers understand even less. When your child wants to tell you something and you don't understand — or you don't comply with your child's wishes — you may have a tantrum on your hands.
What's the best way to respond to a tantrum?
1. If you can, pretend to ignore the tantrum. If you lose your cool or give in to your child's demands, you've only taught your child that tantrums are effective.
2. If your child has a tantrum at home, you can act as if it's not interrupting things. After your child quiets down, you might say, "I noticed your behavior, but that won't get my attention. If you need to tell me something, you need to use your words."
3. If your child has a tantrum in public, pretending to ignore the behavior is still the best policy. Any parent who witnesses the scene is likely to sympathize with you as you ignore the tantrum. If the tantrum escalates or your child is in danger of hurting himself or herself, stop what you're doing and remove your child from the situation. If your child calms down, you may be able to return to your activity. If not, go home — even if it means leaving a cart full of groceries in the middle of the store. At home, discuss with your child the type of behavior you would have preferred.
Should a child be punished for having a tantrum?
- Temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up. Rather than punishing your child, remind him or her that tantrums aren't appropriate. Sometimes a simple reminder to "use your words" is adequate. For a full-blown tantrum — or a tantrum that caused you to abandon an activity in public — try a timeout.
- During a timeout, seat your child in a boring place — such as in a chair in the living room or on the floor in the hallway — for a certain length of time, usually one minute for each year of the child's age. You can pretend that you don't even see your child during the timeout, but you can still assure his or her safety. If your child begins to wander around, simply place him or her back in the designated timeout spot. Remind your child that he or she is in timeout, but don't offer any other attention.
Can you prevent a tantrum?
There may be no foolproof way to prevent tantrums, but there's plenty you can do to encourage good behavior in even the youngest children:
1. Be consistent. Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. Stick to the routine as much as possible, including nap time and bedtime. It's also important to set reasonable limits and follow them consistently.
2. Plan ahead. If you need to run errands, go early in the day — when your child isn't likely to be hungry or tired. If you're expecting to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.
3. Encourage your child to use words. Young children understand many more words than they're able to express. If your child isn't speaking — or speaking clearly — you might teach him or her sign language for words such as "I want," "more," "enough," "hurt" and "tired." The more easily your child can communicate with you, the less likely you are to struggle with tantrums. As your child gets older, help him or her put feelings into words.
4. Let your child make choices. To give your child a sense of control, let him or her make appropriate choices. Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt? Would you like to eat strawberries or bananas? Would you like to read a book or build a tower with your blocks? Then compliment your child on his or her choices.
5. Praise good behavior. Offer extra attention when your child behaves well. Tell your child how proud you are when he or she shares toys, listens to directions, and so on.
6. Use distraction. If you sense a tantrum brewing, distract your child. Try making a silly face or changing location. It may help to touch or hold your child.
7. Avoid situations likely to trigger tantrums. If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, steer clear of "temptation islands" full of eye-level goodies. If your child acts up in restaurants, make reservations so that you won't have to wait — or choose restaurants that offer quick service.