Well, where to begin with this one? Recently my son has adopted this bad habit of throwing colossal tantrums over the smallest of things, and sometimes it drives me up the wall. There are days where i'd also like to scream along with him, but if i do, he would just cry even more. This particular blog is not to mum shame, or try and tell you how you 'should' be parenting. This blog is to tell you what i do to get through it, how i keep myself mentally healthy through those tantrum days, and my process of trying to understand why. Why does he throw tantrums over small things? Can i help him? What could he be feeling? All that jazz.
What are Toddler Tantrums?
Typically for me a toddler tantrum for me, is when my son is crying, clingy, angry or whiny despite having nothing physically wrong with him. These tantrums aren't usually something that occur often, but i find that when they do happen, they are incredibly hard to deal with and sometimes last long periods of time. I'll give an example, today my son had a bit of a meltdown that went for about ten minutes, because his favourite show came on and then it finished. He started crying just simply because he wanted more of his favourite show but couldn't have it. There was nothing physically wrong with him, but he wanted something a lot, but couldn't have it. I can't control what comes on the kids channel, so for me i couldn't understand why he was crying at me like it was my fault. It's when he has these little moments like this, that i call them toddler tantrums.
Dealing with Toddler Tantrums (from my experience)
I don't have a step by step guide on dealing with tantrums, and how i approach them really depends on the severity of the tantrums. I usually go through my list of 'does he need anything' first. Does he need a bum change? Is he thirsty or hungry? Is he in any sort of pain? If all the things on my list are a no, and he's well fed, not thirsty, clean and not in pain, i then move on to my comforting stage. I'll give him a cuddle, rub his back talk gently and see if that helps. Sometimes it does and he chills out fairly quickly because he has him mummy there and he knows he's supported and safe. But sometimes that doesn't work either. And that's when it becomes hard. This is where i am here to say, don't be afraid to walk away if you are feeling overwhelmed, if you know your baby is safe and won't hurt themselves, they don't physically need anything like food etc.You can walk away to give yourself a minute to breathe and compose yourself. Don't be afraid to talk to your child either, try and help them understand that there isn't anything you can do to fix their problem. I'll refer back to this morning's issue, i sat him down during his meltdown and showed him that there was a new show on, and that i couldn't fix it because Duggee (his favourite show) was finished. This took some time, and some patience but eventually, with some persuasion from his toys, and the new tv shows he eventually calmed down and realised that it was going to be okay. But i have those moments a lot where i need to walk away to catch a breather and try to recuperate. Parenting is hard, but you don't have to feel like you have to fix them immediately, if you need a small break, take it. If you need a moment to have a drink of water, and breathe, take it. You're baby won't hate you for taking that time, to work out how to help them. There are lots of different methods of approaching tantrums, and not all of them will work for you and your child, mine may not work, others may not work, you may find an approach on your own that works even better, and if you do, use that. There is no right or wrong when it comes to this and you know your baby best, whatever works for you is right, there is no wrong. It may take some time to work out what is the best for your child, and yourself, and don't be afraid to try different things if something isn't working. Parenting is all about trial and error really, working out what works for your baby, because very child and baby is different.
Why is a big question. Why is my son feeling this way? Why can't he handle these small inconveniences? I've read lots of different things about why kids throw tantrums, and i am really led back to the same thing. It's all about learning how to deal with emotions. My son is a little part of the big world, and that must be how he sees himself. So tackling new things, would be so hard for him. Its a lot to learn, and he's only small. So i often try to put myself in his spot. He wants to be independent. and he wants things that make him happy. But he can't have them, and that must be frustrating. And he has all these emotions, and they're all trying to get out at once. I know for myself, trying to deal with my own emotions is hard, let alone a little fella who can't see what emotions are what. And that's how he sees it i believe. So trying to help him get through those emotions is super important to me. Its my way of teaching him how to handle those emotions, and those moments. Talking to him doesn't always work but knowing that it can make a small difference in the long run, makes it matter all the much more to me.
My mental health
During those hard, emotional, and tantrum filled days, keeping my cool is pretty hard. I have had plenty of moments where i've needed to walk away, or let my husband take the reigns because i just cant help him like i want to. And it's definitely very testing, on your patience, and your emotions. I think what the hardest part is for me, is that i want to help him, but i can't figure out how. I have a few things that help me get through it, and keep my sanity, as well as keeping myself mentally healthy.
Walking away: As mentioned before, take that time to walk away if you have to. It won't hurt your baby and sometimes you really need a moment to yourself to keep your brain from getting foggy, and becoming overwhelmed. It's certainly not a bad thing to walk away, and please don't let people tell you it is, because it's not.
Venting: Vent, Vent, Vent, there is nothing better than having a good vent. And sometimes getting whatever has happened during the day with your baby's tantrums, off your chest can help take a load off. For me it makes me feel like someone else is listening and i don't feel so alone with it. I enjoy venting, it makes me feel much better.
Ask for Help: If you have the help available, ask for it. If you feel like its overwhelming and just a bit too much to handle, ask for help. Call your mum or partner, friends and family, ask for help. If its too overwhelming for me, my husband is always happy to lend a hand. And my mum is happy to take him off my hands during those moments as well. If i need a breather or i just can't work out what to do, its good to have that support from my family, my husband and friends. I know i can count on them if i need them. And that is a huge relief knowing i can get the break if i need it. I don't have to go through it alone, and i don't have to deal with it all the time. Having that break, gives me a better perspective of how to handle it next time.
Cuddles: Sometimes if nothing else, give my son a big cuddle, helps me as much as him. My son is quite independent most days, and he hasn't really given me a big cuddle for a long time. When he does give me a good cuddle even if he's upset, it reminds me that he loves me, that i am a good mum, and he's just going through those big emotions and he needs me more than i realise. I often forget how important those little moments with my son really are. And i need them just as much as he does.
Being a parent is hard, and sometimes it feels like a real mission trying to understand your children and all their needs. I can't count how many times i felt like a bad parent because i couldn't work out how to help my son by myself, or because he cried longer than i thought he would. I haven't been a parent for years, and i am not oozing with knowledge and experience, but i do know my son, i know what he likes, what he needs, and how to be there for him. I know how to be his mum, and that's all that matters. Am i a perfect mum? No, but i know that he loves me, and is happy that i am there when he needs me. No one else or what they think about my parenting really maters, i am happy with what i do, and i know in myself, i am a good parent, and you are too.