Why You Shouldn't Let Your Toddlers Tantrums Get To You
Kicking, screaming, shouting, crying in frustration is all part of the parcel of being a toddler. Show me a toddler who hasn't done all of the above and let me into your secret!
As parents we often get ourselves into a hot sweat being flustered and triggered by our little humans yet forget that it is completely normal behaviour. Having a two year old myself I know how tough they can be. I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to restrain and pin my darling daughter down whilst putting her shoes on or those moments when she has gone stiff and flung her head and limbs back when trying to carry her out of the supermarket (often just missing being punched in the face too).
There are many reasons why we can let ourselves get so triggered:
1) You think their behaviour is a reflection of you (i.e Your parenting!) Yep admit it - when your child kicks off (especially in public) you think it's a direct reflection of yourself as a parent and you feel embarrassed, ashamed and think that every man and his dog is judging you! And you're wrong on all accounts. The moment you start to go down this train of thought is the moment you make the situation about yourself and not your toddler. You worry more about what you look like as a parent opposed to getting yourself onto your child's level to empathise and understand what is causing the tantrum.
*Side note - no one is judging you and if they are they 1) Likely don't have kids themselves and 2) They have forgotten what they were like as a child. Plus even if someone is to judge you, does their opinion really matter?
2) You're too busy to be present - I admit I often fail on being present. It is pretty hard to be 100% present and attuned to your child unless you don't want to ever get things done (plus children need to learn that we can't be at their beck and call 24/7). But when we are busy doing housework, cooking, cleaning or scrolling on Instagram we can sometimes miss the cues they are giving us. Think about a toddler. Most can't communicate as effectively as an adult so they can't say something like 'Mummy I've had a long week, I'm super tired today and I just want to have some snacks and stay home today watching cartoons'. Instead they cry (continuously), they may pick up the phone/tablet/ipad and throw it at you (to signal - please put Peppa Pig on) and then they may kick, scream and point towards the kitchen at something - trying to tell you they want some lunch whilst they get hangry and hangrier!
The more present we become the more we can pick up on these things before it becomes a heightened toddler tantrum situation. Only just recently my husband and I have discovered that our toddler has epic meltdowns on a Saturday morning as she is so shattered from her busy schedule during the week. It took a couple of weeks of doing activities with her on a Saturday morning noting that she was super stressy, whingy and just damn right annoying that we eventually came to the conclusion that she needed to have a super chilled morning instead so she often watches cartoons or goes in the pram whilst we have a walk (steering clear of soft plays and trampoline parks!)
*Side note - try and put the phone down (Instagram scrolling is really not important) or let the dishes pile up and go and sit with your toddler even if it is just to sit and watch what they are doing - they will appreciate your presence.
3) We all have off days, our toddlers included - We all have those moments when we say something in the heat of the moment or we come home from work utterly exhausted and just want to sit on the sofa in silence, eat our dinner and go to sleep. Well toddlers are no different but they just can't communicate how they feel and at the young age of two can't express their feelings in a positive manner. We all know toddlers can switch from happy to sad quicker than the speed of lightening. One minute they are happily toddling along - the next minute their brain signals they are tired and they just can't control themselves as they need to NAP and they need to NAP now and imagine how frustrated they would be if they were being dragged around the supermarket in this moment (that would send me over the edge too - especially if somewhere like IKEA or TESCO)
*Side note - sometimes put your child's agenda before your own. You may be itching to get out the house, to run errands or to go somewhere but try and put yourself in your toddlers shoes as they may just want to chill or do a child orientated activity. Don't be surprised if they do kick off if you take them somewhere where they are supposed to behave like mini adults!
4. You're unresponsive and attuned - do you know half the time when toddlers are playing up its just a way to get your attention? Most of the time toddlers get the most attention when they are being little tinkers. Take for instance my daughter. She's a food thrower and loves throwing her dinner all over the floor (often when she's full and had enough.) When she does this she knows she gets my full undivided attention as I throw her a wicked look and try to hide how much it stresses me out when she does this. So her little toddler brain receives signals that says, 'When I throw my food, Mummy looks at me and she stops what ever she is doing to give me her attention' - and so she does it even more. In her head she sees it as a game, one where she can get mummy to respond. And I totally get how she computes that in her head.
*Side note - if you fully engage more with your toddler and become more attuned to them they are less likely to want to trigger you by misbehaving as they know that they can positively get your attention by other means (not by food throwing!)
As I have already mentioned - toddler tantrums are completely normal. The majority of the time its due to a huge frustration in not being able to communicate which is totally understandable (imagine if your voice was taken away for the day!)
Don't let low self-esteem or negative self talk make you believe that you are a bad parent or that people will view you that way as that isn't the case. Remember the moment you start getting flustered and feeling embarrassed about their behaviour is the moment that you internally lose your cool more than the toddler making it all about YOU and not them.