Children have tantrums when they feel overwhelmed by big emotions like anger, fear or disappointment. One way of thinking about it is that your granddaughter gets thrown into a storm of powerful feelings, knocked around by waves that are simply too big for her to manage.
One minute, she was walking toward me, the next, she was dragging her body forward, propelled only by tears and heartfelt accusations: You always make me miss everything fun! I don't want to go! I'm not going! You always make me leave! I never get to stay for the fun things.
Going through this with her makes me see other parents that I used to judge fairly harshly on a completely different level. You'd never think, looking at my daughter, I wonder if she'd just suffered a tremendous loss?
When I call my child's actions a behavior, when I label it "a tantrum," it kind of lets me off the hook. Oh, that's a tantrum. He has the problem. He needs to learn. It sets us up for a power struggle.
By being more mindful, we can pause before reacting, taking time to calm ourselves down. We can remind ourselves to breathe for a minute, become more aware of the present moment and choose to respond in a manner consistent with how we want to treat our child.
When you see signs of your child heading toward a tantrum and you realize you aren't going to be able to stay cool, calm and collected, there is a way to "give in" to your child (thereby avoiding the meltdown) without teaching her that whenever she wants something, all she needs to do is yell.
As adults, we become aware of how our emotional fluctuations impact others, but my toddler doesn't give a care that her moods might stress me out. Her main concern is making it known that she wants her sparkly shoes and not her red ones
Toddlerhood is a challenging stage. My daughter has the newfound ability to express her wants, needs and excessively irrational, endless, countless, infinite demands with words, yet lacks the decency to keep it to herself.
Later, as we select books to read before bedtime, he requests Where The Wild Things Are -- a book about a boy so untamed, he scares even the most ferocious of creatures. There's a metaphor here, I know it. Is he one of the wild things? Am I? Are we both the boy?
Who says that the second we have kids, we're supposed to behave like saints, suddenly free of the baggage we've carried around for years? I personally wish someone had pulled me aside at a young age and explained that parents are just trying to find their way as they go.
This parenting stuff, I am learning, is tricky business. It can be tough to figure out when to be stern and hold your ground as a mom to help mold your children into better people, and when to just throw in the towel and let kids be kids.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you scold your child, using words you never use or threats you'd never see through? Afterwards, you stand there stumped for a few seconds wondering, "Where did that come from?" Then, it hits you -- you sound like your mother or father.