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So I have to say, Caroline can throw a pretty good tantrum now. Screaming, real tears, hitting, throwing, and for some reason opening her mouth and slamming her face into me (or anything near by). Luckily, it usually just consists of screaming or crying, and seems to come in phases and then goes away.
It is always hard to not just give in and give her what she wants. Sometimes that is appropriate, and others it simply is teaching a very bad lesson. Here are a few things I am keeping in mind through this phase (however long it comes and goes):
It is so important to understand why your child is upset. This obviously isn’t something you can just ask them if they aren’t talking much (or at all yet).
These are the most likely culprits:
– Didn’t like that you said “NO” or wouldn’t let them do something.
– Communication issue. It must be so frustrating to not be able to get your point across to someone. When your child can’t say all of the words they want or need to say, it is bound to frustrate them. It is also frustrating to them if they don’t understand what you are asking of them.
– They are tired or hungry. I don’t know about you, but I certainly get a little extra cranky if I am tired and/or hungry. I don’t always realize why I am so snappy until my husband points it out LOL! A child is definitely not going to realize that they are getting abnormally upset, and link that to hunger or tiredness- but you can. This is why I am a huge advocate of keeping them on a schedule. Schedules keep everyone well rested and well fed!
2. Pick your battles
Not everything is worth letting them have a tantrum over. If it is safety related, hold your ground and be firm, but if it isn’t, perhaps reconsider why you are saying “no”. If you still feel that it is a necessary “no”, then stick to it! But, if you realize that you might be saying no out of convenience for yourself, reconsider. It is ok to realize that you may have been wrong and correct the issue. What seems like no big deal to you, is a HUGE deal to your child. Did they just want to stay outside for a little while longer? Can you make that happen? Go for it! That being said, see number 4 below on setting boundaries! (It is always a balance).
There are 2 very important things to explain to your child:
– First explain that you understand how they feel. Acknowledging someone’s feelings goes a long way. Tell them that you understand that they are mad/sad/angry/etc. and that it is ok to feel that way. It sucks that they can’t have candy for breakfast (or whatever it is they are upset about)! Be genuine and try to understand how big of a deal it is to them.
– Next explain why you are saying no. Tell them that it isn’t good for their body to have candy for breakfast, or that you don’t even have any in the house. Or tell them that you spent a lot of time making eggs and pancakes and it would make you feel appreciated if they ate what you made. Whatever your actual reason, just tell them. Most people like to know why something is happening. Not just, “because I said so”. And they may not understand, but one day they will, so just keep explaining. I’ve been explaining since day 1 when Caroline had no clue what I was talking about!
4. Set boundaries
Children thrive on rules and boundaries. They also test you on them. Decide what your boundaries are and set them. Don’t be afraid to enforce them. Hearing “no” is healthy for a child. They will hear no a lot in their lives. Don’t let their first experience come outside of your home. They simply cannot have what they want all of the time. Teach them that. They will not always understand why, and that is ok. (Still worth explaining, though).
5. Be consistent
When you set rules and boundaries, be consistent. Both parents need to be on the same page. You need to always enforce the rule in the same way so they don’t get confused. There are enough communication issues, don’t create one of your own! If they aren’t allowed to go down the stairs in an upright position, just don’t let them. If that means that you carry them down the stairs when they won’t do it correctly, that’s ok. If they cry the whole time, that’s also ok. I’d rather have a crying child, than a child that just fell down the stairs. Don’t forget to take the time to explain (#3).
6. Be patient
Don’t forget that this is all new to your child. They may not understand yet that something is “unsafe” or what that even means. Their whole world seems like it’s falling apart when they can’t have candy for breakfast. Don’t forget that their world is so much smaller than ours, and that things are on a much bigger scale. So, be patient with them. Don’t let them actually get you upset. And be patient with the process. Consistency will pay off, and you won’t have to keep saying no to the same things (it will be new things). Also be patient with yourself. Remember that you are doing the best you can and that you have good intentions. If you get upset, it’s only human. It is ok. Forgive yourself and start over, because your child already has.