Erm no, my baby is so sweet – I don’t think this one will suffer with the ‘terrible twos’… she says!
‘The terrible twos’ – as they sometimes put it… meaning toddler tantrums, is a beautifully-chaotic phase, that appears to pop-up out-of-nowhere – somewhere around the age of two. It’s when your lovely baby boy or girl (it applies to both), really begins to develop their sense-of-self and mind. Unlike the baby that they previously were – craving mainly attention… they have now realised, that they’re an entirely separate person to you; and they have developed stronger preferences… that they’ll as-sure-as-sugar – try to demonstrate to you. At this point, a little power struggle commences – between toddler and parent… but try not to panic – it’s. perfectly. normal !
I remember initially – whenever my little boy was in the middle of a tantrum – I mean rolling around on the floor and screaming-the-house-down kind of tantrum… I always used to think – why are you doing this to me? What have I done wrong? At the beginning of it all – I can recall sometimes getting upset… and honestly – almost taking it personally. I just couldn’t seem to get my head around, how we were laughing and enjoying each others company, a short second ago – yet now, he was treating me as arch-enemy.
I remember trying everything with him – I would initially stay incredibly calm and wait it out. If this didn’t work, I would try to cuddle him – plastering him in kisses and sweet-talk. If this also didn’t work, I would try to be funny – which would inevitably make him become more hysterical. And then when all-else-failed – and I felt I had exhausted my energy resources… I would then become flustered and frustrated with him – which again… only amplified his hysteria.
For me, the time when the penny dropped… on this unfamiliar tantrum-territory – was a very surreal moment for me indeed. I had been bathing my little tot – and we’d been having lots of fun together in the tub, you know… all the toys and the sing-songs – the whole shebang! Everything again – was going beautifully well…until it was time to get out of the bath that is. My little one went absolutely berserk – I mean… probably the worst hysteria I have ever experienced from him.
This time… in place of trying to negotiate with him – I instead analysed, his every-move… incredibly closely. I got down on the bedroom floor with him – and simply sat on the carpet propped up against the drawers. He was screaming, slapping me, putting his head in his hands – he was literally all over the place.
So, I simply sat. Nothing else. I sat propped up with my legs open – so he could come in for a cuddle if he needed to… and I just sat and waited. He was climbing all over me, then running around the room – then climbing all over me again trying to have a hug, then walking away and screaming again. But:- Instead of trying to talk, lots of sugary-sweet-talk to him… I simply held, a gentle look of empathy on my face – so it meant that my whole demeanour, was down to his level and friendly. I then said – in the calmest, most sincere tone that I possibly could – ‘it’s okay darling – I know it’s hard, when you have to stop doing something that you were enjoying doing – yes, it’s okay to be upset darling’. And then… I just waited.
Suddenly – my toddler now had his arms properly around me – he was still standing up on me, but every now and again, I just repeated – ‘I know darling, it’s hard isn’t it’. I said this ever so calmly and gently – yet somehow, still firmly enough… for him to know that bath time had definitely finished. Eventually – and yet so suddenly… my toddler had stopped the hysteria; and he was now in more of a – sniffy-snotty state. In this moment, I then asked – ‘would you like to have a cuddle baby?’ – (he answered yes)… ‘okay then darling – let’s have a cuddle’ – you get the gist! And then, to my absolute astonishment – my little tot was now fully embraced, in a cuddle with me.
He was significantly calmer... and rather than yelling hysterically – he was now sniffing back much smaller tears. He’d completely “surrendered” – and before I knew it, he was agreeable to most things that I suggested. i.e. ‘would you like to choose some pyjamas now’… yea. ‘Would you like to have some milk now darling?’ – yea please… and so on.
What suddenly hit me, was the realisation, that this little toddler – he. is. just. that… a toddler. I realised in that moment, that toddlers do not actually possess – a great deal of logic, or the means to be rational with us. Although their will and ideas are certainly strong… they don’t always know, exactly what it is – that they actually want; and they don’t always know – how to communicate what they are feeling to us. In my sons case, he was feeling frustrated – for the fact that I was going against what he wanted to do; and since he didn’t have the level of communication, or the ability to rationalise – it therefore built up into an explosive form of frustration for him – and he could only express it… in the form of a highly emotional tantrum.
I came to realise – by watching; and by really trying, to find it in myself to understand… that my toddlers behaviour was not – in any way done on purpose… or for the sheer sake of it. I soon realised, that it’s simply all part-and-parcel, of this vital stage in their development – an outlet for the emotions, that they can’t quite understand… and of course – just being a normal two-year-old.
When my son was attending nursery, I was talking to one of the lovely nursery-nurses – about his behaviour. At that point, I was at the stage, where I was still getting used to the tantrums. I’d been trying various gentle methods, to help my son work through his anger, but the one thing I hadn’t thoroughly tested… was the ‘naughty-step‘. So, I asked the nursery nurse, what she thought about the naughty-step technique; and her response was, that she felt it would be fine – but, she explained that it was essential – that I stayed near my son – during ‘naughty-step time’.
So, that very night – when my little one threw a big hissy fit – I set out a comfy little leather foot stool… and had him sit there for two minutes. I explained to him why we were doing this – and I told him, that if we are naughty and don’t listen to mummy – then we will be taking time-out… on the naught chair. Of course, my son began crying… and crying some more, but… to my absolute astonishment – he stayed on the chair! While he didn’t like the experience – he bizarrely seemed to understand, that he was there as a consequence, of his behaviour. I sat on a chair very near to him – and gently talked him through the process. As we approached the last few seconds, I went over to him (at his level) and asked if he was going to be a good boy?. He said yes – and so, I asked him if he would like a cuddle… and he again said yes. So, we had a cuddle – and then after that, he was happy and also behaved… result!
Something I always wonder as a parent, is what it would it be like – to be a fly on the wall… just to observe myself for a moment ? This is a thought, that I now live by – when it comes to dealing with my son; and I would like to share it with you – because it’s a really thought-provoking concept. During any given tantrum, I always try to think to myself, okay – so how would the fly-on-the-wall, be perceiving this? What would the fly have to say, about what the toddler is doing – versus how the parent (me)… is reacting to the toddler? The toddler being two-and-a-half – and me being thirty…? ?
With this in mind… I now always try to look at situations… from the outside in. Meaning, that instead of firstly paying attention to my own emotions – and acting based on what I am seeing with my own eyes… and to what I am feeling inside – Instead – I first look at how I’m behaving… in the ‘eye of the fly’. Because, the eye of the fly – can see everything – not just your child like you can… they can see you too. The fly on the wall – is your perspective. And perspective – is a really useful and beautiful thing.
Honestly, it’s really not easy being a parent; and I can thoroughly identify and empathise – with every single one of you, who are struggling with this challenging phase. None-of-us are perfect – and we’re all only human, so it’s tough… it really isn’t easy. My sincere hope is, that if you do take anything away from this post… I hope it can be a little strength; and also the courage to know – that you’ve got this. Because… it does. get. easier.
With warm wishes as always,
Fly on the wall
AKA – Olivia xo
We are going through the terrible twos right now.. I was recommended your post on the WP reader so it’s…
Awww, thank you so much for your lovely reply @Inbetweenthemargins – it really means a lot to me that you…
I really needed to read this, thank you. Just today we had a birthday party for my two year old…
Really feel you here, great podcast to raise awareness👌🏼. It’s so important
Love this 👌🏼
5 Replies to “Toddler Tantrums – The Low Down”
Hello! I hear you girl!! I thought my boy was the perfect child until he hit two. He’s now 2 1/2 and I’m struggling big-time with tantrums. They do come out of nowhere. I like the chair idea, definitely going to try that out. And viewing my actions as a fly-on-the-wall would be interesting for a different perspective as to how I deal with his melt-downs. Thanks for the advice. Always nice to know I’m not alone.
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Hi relaxitsallwrite – hope you’re well 🙂
Thanks so much for visiting my site – and also for your lovely comment, it means the world to me :).
I’m so glad you managed to find something useful in this. It’s such a tough time isn’t it… and if one thing is going to test our patience more than anything else – this will certainly be it haha!
Yes, absolutely, I found that the naughty-chair technique worked brilliantly. It can take some time and commitment, but I’d definitely say it’s worth a try – nothing to lose eh 😉
Well done mummy – keep up the good work. I know how hard it can be – it can honestly… quite literally make you feel dizzy aarrghhhh !
I’d love to hear how it goes – praying it helps you : )
All the best wishes,
I really needed to read this, thank you. Just today we had a birthday party for my two year old – tantrums galore! It’s hard to know how to handle it, but I think it best helps to know that we aren’t alone! Posts like this are great, thanks again!
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Awww, thank you so much for your lovely reply @Inbetweenthemargins – it really means a lot to me that you enjoyed the post and took the time write to me 🙂
Gosh, I know what you mean – it can be so, so difficult at times can’t it… and you’re so right – sometimes it’s soothing just to hear that we’re not alone =)
A big Happy belated birthday to your little one :O)
Best wishes x
We are going through the terrible twos right now.. I was recommended your post on the WP reader so it’s fascinating to read about your experience like reading my own journal LOL.. I’m curious, is your little one past that horrible stage yet? I need hope lol
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