You know those moments when something completely rational happens, and your child’s emotions have nowhere to go but over the sides of his or her cup? I think my child’s cup is very small. We are not to the particulars yet – like crying because I picked out a red spoon instead of blue one – but we do have meltdowns nonetheless. Having the pacifier taken away. Being fed ice cream. Needing a dirty diaper changed. Putting on a jacket. Getting into a car seat. Waking up too early from a nap. Not allowing him to chew on mulch. Basic things.
In these moments when my child then flings himself in anger, his mouth cocked in the funniest shape, streaming tears of sorrow, I can’t help myself but to…
Stare at him dumbfounded. This tantrum is so irrational that my brain cannot even process how we end up with such a dramatic result. I catch myself frozen, staring, with no words coming out of my mouth. What else am I to do?
Talk to him rationally with no result. They say kids are smarter than we think, and we should be able to talk to them about their emotions. So I sit and have deep-hearted philosophical conversations, three minutes later getting the hunch that maybe this theory isn’t working.
Gently assist his head bangs. Isn’t screaming enough? Why do they have to flop like a fish too and bang their head on the ground? Is that normal? I just make sure to actually aid his head softly to the ground so I’m not then dealing with an actual disaster.
Clear the area of dangers. In those same moments of flailing, things like drawer corners and launchable objects become enemies on the frontline. I don’t need any more enemies interfering with said battle.
Get on his level and stare some more. I’m not sure eye-to-eye level actually does anything special, but I feel like it’s a secret tactic I heard about at one point in time, so I just do it anyway.
Sing terribly. Y’all, I’m the worst singer, and I know the lyrics to only the most random songs. I’m not sure if singing the ABC’s, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or one verse of Wheels on the Bus just doesn’t work or if my voice is really that bad.
Reach for the pacifier. Oh, we’ll break the habit one day, but in certain moments when I have no other creative solutions, I just grab a nearby pacifier and call it a day.
Tell myself I should seek advice for this now. Since we’re only at 16 months, I feel like I could get some advice to get ahead of the curve. Maybe? Then I always forget to post to my mom groups about this afterward.
Affirm my child is, in fact, a diva. This kid, he’s been dramatic since day one. These outbursts of emotion are not new, and I’m determined this is an ingrained personality trait that will only get more challenging.
Debate who he got these genes from. I KNOW my husband would point his fingers at me – even I often do – but since my husband can be super impatient, I’d like to blame him too, for peace of mind at least.
Speculate about the future. Oh man, there is no way he is going to be a sweet, innocent, loving teenager that we never have to worry about. No way.
Document it. I don’t do this to share, and I don’t do this that often, but every once in a while I need some sort of documented proof that he’s not always an angel.
Say “shhhhhhhhhh” in the most annoying way ever. For the record, this does not work on my husband. It does not work on my child either.
Use clever distraction tactics. This is an actual, successful tactic. Just have to move on from whatever the issue is and focus on something else, like a hairbrush or empty medicine box.
Adjust my tone of voice. Hitting and angrily throwing is really not acceptable, and I’m not cool with either, tantrum or not. So when necessary, I have no choice but to bring out the firm mom tone of voice.
Scoop him away. Public head bangs can get a little awkward, so addressing (or not addressing) the meltdown outside the line of judgment gives me much better peace of mind.
Turn my back to hide my laughter. His mouth really can make the ugliest cry face I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know what a normal response is besides just to laugh.
Straight up ignore. Funny how these tantrums seem way less dramatic when you walk around the corner and put them out of sight, out of mind. I’m not sure if they actually end sooner as well – no fun without an audience – or it just feels quicker because I’m not watching and waiting.
Tell myself he will be a strong leader one day. Strong personalities make strong leaders right? So as long as I can get through the next twenty years or so, we’ll be all good, right?
Make sure he’s fed and well-rested. These two tend to be the top underlying problems with tantrums for us so far, so when it comes to troubleshooting, I often start there.
Remind myself he’s just a child. One day, when he can communicate, maybe I’ll stress more about tantrums. For now, I just make sure he’s fed, well-rested, laugh, stare or ignore, then pick him up, move on and let it go. A little sarcasm can lighten the mood too 😉