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Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Tale of a Tantrum

By Guest Blogger Kelly Gunzenhauser

So I thought I was getting off easy when my younger son came along and we were blessed with a child who had the sunniest disposition I have ever seen. He was a content, easy baby. Now, as a two-year-old, he kisses his preschool teachers after they change his diapers and tells everyone who will listen that he loves them. He can get a little feisty with his friends, but he’s usually a piece of cake at home.

By now you are all laughing at me and waiting for the other shoe to drop, and of course it has. My son has hit the tantrum stage. He is not a small kid and he’s strong as an ox, so tantrums are not minor events. Here is a list of some of the things that have set him off: socks too “waggy,” socks at all, shoes at all, getting dressed, wearing a coat, not getting his fingers in the right glove holes, wearing mittens instead, changing his diaper, going to the grocery store, going home from anywhere, getting strapped into his car seat, going to preschool, going to bed, reading only one book at bedtime, getting a bath, getting lotion on his eczema, brushing his teeth, having his fingernails cut, leaving a friend’s house, waking up from a nap, getting too many kisses, being asked what he wants for breakfast, getting the wrong color of cup, and when his brother looks at him.

The “best” tantrum by far was at the grocery store. He wasn’t in the mood for the store. I was of two minds. His tantrum was more whining than anything else—should I risk it? Maybe a cookie once we got inside would help. And, I don’t really like giving in to tantrums. And, I REALLY needed to go to the store! So off we went.

While we were there, he screamed at the absolute top of his lungs the whole time, “Put your stuff back!” He ran from one side of the store to the other and hid. He kicked and screamed every time I picked him up to move him to a new part of the store. He ran away from me and tried to escape out of the door into the parking lot; I only stopped him by grabbing the hood of his jacket. So many people offered help: “Can I get him a balloon? Can I get him a cookie? Can I hold him while you tie him to the cart?” (OK, just kidding about that last one.)

And just as many people came up to me and said, “I have 2 (3, 5, 10) kids and I have been there. It gets better.” (Yes, I know it does. The five-year-old evidence of that is calmly riding in the spaceship grocery cart.) And a few people looked at me like I was the world’s worst mother, you know, shaking their heads in that, “Wow, why can’t you control your child?” sort of way.

As I look back over the list of things that have set him off, I see that many of them are transitions and “have-to-dos.” Kids don’t like to change course until they are ready. The reality is, though, that sometimes we have to do what needs to be done, and I can’t accommodate his timetable. Like right now, while I am trying to finish this up quickly, and he is hanging on me and whining and lying in the floor and kicking. Now he’s telling me, “I don’t like you Mama,” even though the reason he’s mad is because he wants to play a game - with me. He must like me a little bit. Sometimes. But I know that soon, this stage will be over. And with it will go some of the “I love you’s!” and the constant smooching and the crawling in bed with me in the morning when he wakes up at 5:00am. He’ll be more reasonable, but a little more grown up, too.

So what are your favorite tantrum stories? And what are your tips for dealing with them?

* We thought you would enjoy a "post-tantrum" picture of the star of this post, shown at the top of the blog!


Anonymous said...

Can I ever relate to your blog. My (almost) 2 year old son throws tantrums over many of the same things you have listed. In fact, he is throwing one now as I type this, and I really have no idea why. I'm just curious if you, or anyone else reading this, has any suggestions of how to handle these tantrums. Should they just be ignored, and continue to remind myself that this is only a phase that he'll grow out of? Or are there some ways of making these tantrums occur less often, or even not at all (haha...yeah right!)

Rachel H said...

This is terrible, but one time I video-taped my son throwing a tantrum. He was opening and slamming his bedroom door, crying in hysterics, screaming, throwing books, giving me the honor of being "the worst mother ever", etc. I think this all started over asking him to clean his room.

A few days later we showed him the video and although we all laughed at how ridiculous it was, we had a big talk about the disrespect he showed and how silly he looked acting that way. He even said himself that he was acting like a crazy man.

By no means have the tantrums stopped, but there are not as many, and there has not been one of that caliber again. All we have to do is remind him of the video!

Katie M said...

I love your blog today, Kelly! I was cracking up (sorry, but it is funny!). I am right on the brink of daily tantrums with my 3-year-old and I have almost daily drama with my six-year-old daughter. Similar to Rachel's post on fighting, I'm at a loss at to how to remedy my situation but am looking forward to more tips and suggestions!

Mary said...

Sweetest baby girl in the whole wide world...around 15 months old had her very first blowout tantrum in the quietest place on earth...THE was a pivotal moment in her life. Out with the baby-girl, in with the toddler. 15 minutes worth. A very LONG 15 minutes worth. SOMEBODY didn't want to leave. SOMEBODY didn't want to give up their crayon to put their coat on. SOMEBODY let the entire library know it. She's persistent...sigh...

If she wasn't so-darn cute, I might have just left her there ;) Yep, good thing she's cute ;)

When I finally wrangled her to the counter to pay our small fine and checkout the book I promised her older brother, the lady at the counter looked at me with such contempt, as if I had planned the entire event. So, I plopped her screaming and writhing little body on the counter and asked the lady if she would like a shot at calming a raging, hormonal, new-to-toddler-hood toddler down? She became quite a bit more helpful after that. I could see the line forming around me and a couple of bold mommies offered loudly that they had been there many times and "sigh...what can you do but let it run it's course" and small laughter. Yes, us mommies must stick together...

Summer said...

Kelly I'm with Katie, I laughed all the way through, because you are dead on honest, and when you see it in print it's a wonder anyone tries parenthood anymore, it's an impossible nonsensical situation!! I feel your pain on the tantrums, when we are at home tantrumming children are sent to their rooms, with a polite but firm, "Unacceptable behavior chorus" generally they fall asleep. I have blocked out if any of our kids have dared to do it in public, I much prefer riding it out at home.

Here is a little tantrum story about my adorable 5 year old!-- When she was barely 2 she loved taking off her jamma's in the night no biggie-- only removal of her jamma's would mean that in the morning she would remove her diaper and poop, yes POOP on her bed. The third night she removed her jamma's, I put her back in twice and then I thought I would outsmart her. I took a pair of too small one piece jamma's snipped the feet off and wrestled her little body in there backward so she couldn't unzip.I was not sanitizing taht room again. When she discoved what I'd done SHE EXPLODED!! Literally, she turned bright red, and let out the loudest screams I had ever heard. I ran..back to my bed and pulled the blankets and pillows around my head. "I DON"T LIKE THESE JAMMAS!!!!!!!!!" she screamed, in a demonic tone I felt certain the police would arrive soon as I was clearly the worst and laziest mother on Earth. She layed their in her room, screaming at us for an ETERNITY (maybe two minutes) before my husband went in there like prince charming and said she could wear other jammas if she promised to keep them on.Despite my plea of "Do Not negotiate with that Tantrumist!! I'm still not speaking to him.. (JK) Of course his calm rationale..worked like a charm. She zipped up, and went to sleep.-- Sometimes the best way to deal with a tantrum is to let someone else do it.

Kelly G. said...

By the way, the picture on this post was taken after my son had a huge tantrum because I made him change his dirty socks before he sat on the couch. He took off all of his clothes and fell asleep because he wore himself out. But the funniest part was that as I snapped two pictures, he woke up and got mad all over again because I was taking pictures!

Kelly G. said...

@ Anonymous, sometimes there is just nothing you can do. The painful thing to remember is that tantrums are "developmentally appropriate" as kids struggle to master doing things on their own and as they realize they have choices and the will to enforce the choices they make. It's funny, but as I read this I realized that while he is still having tantrums, most of the causes have changed. He is potty-trained now. He can open his own car door and buckle his own car seat. He now likes lotion and getting his nails cut because he has realized it makes him feel better, and he can put on his own socks. I am trying to give him more responsibility and choices and time. I am also really listening to how much I say "no." Even if I still have to say it, there are other ways to do it besides just "no."

Saffie girl said...

Oh this sounds very familiar! My second child was born content...slept through the night early, smiles a lot, had a very sweet disposition. He is turning two this July and all of a sudden he has started pushing the limits and protesting...AH! This too shall pass. I have one tiny little tip and it's about grocery shopping - use the "to go" options at Lowes and Harris Teeter. It is SO worth the $4 fee (every fourth shop is free anyway). All you do is register on line, do your shopping on line (this is also a GREAT way to easily identify specials and do your price check from low to high). I have found that I actually SAVE money shopping this way. Then all you do is pull up, they load your car, and you are off. Kids can throw their tantrums in the back seat where no one else can hear them if they feel like doing that! It also saves you a couple of hours of your precious time.

Nikki Francis said...

Oh my gosh. Rachel, I totally have video footage too because if I wasn't able to laugh at them, I'd go insane. Great to hear from other moms relishing in these moments as well! Great to know that no matter how dressed up you get them and take them into public, you never know when "El Diablo" will emerge and nothing else matters except trying to save face by escaping. My husband and I have broken sweats (and are quite thankful for the workout actually) by trying to clothe our almost 2 year old before school or bedtime! MOMS ARE MY SUPERHEROES!!!

Barbie said...

AMEN Saffie Girl! Lowes Food to go is the ticket to my sanity. Dragging two kids to the grocery store is pretty much torture in my book.
Moms--if you haven't tried this service, you are missing out! It is life-changing!

Thanks for a great blog Kelly G.! What a hoot!

Anonymous said...

Once I joined my son during his tantrum. When my 2-year-old started screaming and falling to his knees in the kitchen, I did the same! Then I thrashed around on the floor a little for dramatic effect. At first he was stunned, then he started laughing. His older brother started laughing, and then we were all laughing and throwing mock tantrums.

I don't recommend this method for grocery stores.

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