I got to thinking this morning about tantrums. Part of it was spurred on by a post over at Ask Moxie (who totally rocks with the parenting advice), and part by the tantrums that Zach has suddenly started throwing when he doesn’t get his way. The tantrums aren’t necessarily a new thing, but they are becoming more and more frequent here lately. They first started showing up when the in-laws were here and have gotten increasingly more dramatic since then.
Zach’s tantrums, as far as I can figure out, are usually caused by either a need for attention or because he just doesn’t get his way. This morning, as we were leaving the house he threw one of his tantrums. When he wakes up early in the morning I usually turn the TV on for him and let him watch cartoons while I finish getting ready and take the dogs out. Today, however, he actually slept later so I didn’t get him up until I was ready to go. We went through the normal routine of getting him dressed and brushing his teeth. I got him a cup of milk and then grabbed his coat to put on before we headed out the door. Apparently he wasn’t ready to leave and wanted to watch TV. He ran into the living room and pointed at the TV, waiting for me to turn it on. When I told him that we couldn’t watch TV and had to go bye-bye, the tantrum commenced. It continued as I forced his coat on him, wrestled him into his car seat, and drove to day care. Every second of that tantrum was torture for me. It was my fault because I messed up his routine.
I don’t see myself as the type of mom that always gives in. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It all depends on the circumstances. But, I absolutely hate having to tell Zach no when he has clearly communicated to me what he wants. He is not old enough to understand the logic behind it. He only gets that Mommy won’t let him do what he wants to do. He doesn’t understand that we have to leave right now because Mommy doesn’t want to be late to work for the second day in a row. I hate knowing that I am the cause of his distress and that I can’t make it better. I hate when he pushes me away or swings his hands at me or attempts to bite me in anger because I have done something to upset him. He is only 16 months old. I can’t imagine what I’m going to feel like when he’s a teenager and I have to tell him that he can’t do what his friends are doing. I hope at least by then he’ll understand that I’m doing it for his benefit.
I struggle with how to handle his tantrums. The kid has a serious temper when he gets upset by something. I see a lot of his Daddy coming out in him at times. I have a temper too, but there is this irrational rage that I see come out from time to time that I know comes from Hubby’s side of the family. Giving in to what he wants is never the answer because by the time the tantrum starts he is too angry and doesn’t even want it anymore. I use the ignore method most of the time because giving him any attention seems to actually make the tantrum worse. It is so hard to sit back and watch him, but I know that he will eventually settle down. I wish I could find a better way, but I suppose until he learns to communicate better this will have to do.
There is a bit of a silver lining in all of this though. After the tantrum, when he has settled down, I get some really good snuggle time with him.