Thursday, May 10, 2012

all aboard the tantrum express

Based on my last few blog posts, you may be thinking that life with my almost two-year-old is all puppies and rainbows and kid-snuggles. Well, I can say that while there may be lots of kid-snuggles, there are few rainbows and no puppies at all.

G has decided to hit those infamous terrible twos a month early.

The pic above is what we've been dealing with for the past couple of weeks. G has hit a new low on the tantrum front. Right now, his "preferred method of bitchery" takes the form of the following:
  • stomping his feet repeatedly while clenching his hands into tight fists and quivering all over
  • screaming, usually just once
  • throwing things, usually not at me, but whatever
  • running around the house like a mad man
  • contorting his body into weird shapes, like with his legs all splayed out and his back twisted
  • whining. a lot.
  • sitting and crying (see also: hiding behind the couch and crying, and following me around and crying)
I'm currently trying all of the following to see how they work and fit into my "preferred method of parenting aka not killing the kid or causing undue emotional trauma." Not in this order or all at once, mind you.
  • ignoring
  • acknowledging his feelings
  • talking about it
  • trying to get him to communicate without whining (see also: my kid doesn't freakin' talk)
  • distraction
  • putting him in a time out for 1-2 minutes (I've only done this once or twice. The last time I did it was for throwing blocks at me day after day, and he hasn't thrown them at me since.)
  • leaving the room
  • cuddling
The distraction method still works more than anything with him. When ignoring or talking it out doesn't have a positive effect, I'll start reading a book aloud, which usually causes him to come sit in my lap to read. Sometimes we'll step outside for a moment. Sometimes, when I get really desperate and a lot of time has gone by, I'll pull out some Yo Gabba Gabba.

Most of the time, he does pretty good. I have to say we haven't had any major fits outside the house so far, but I know that'll change. Today, while we were in Party City, he got impatient to leave so he started thrashing about in the cart. I ignored him and told him we would leave soon, and he stopped throwing his tantrum, though he did keep pointing and whining about the exit doors. Usually, once he sees that you're not going to give in, he'll give up. Sometimes, he gets so upset that he'll start crying. I'll usually let him cry for a bit before trying to get him to stop. For one, a good cry kinda helps release that pent-up emotion. For two, I don't want him to think that whatever distraction I offer is a reward for that behavior.

I guess really parenting a toddler means walking a fine line between sympathy and teaching your kid about appropriate behavior. I mean, he's not even two yet. I know that it's difficult for him to control himself. Those emotions he has are big and often scary. Sometimes, after a tantrum, he just wants me to hold him.

I get it, kiddo. Sometimes you just need to thrash it out. His drooling has picked up, and his fingers are often in his mouth, so I'm thinking those two year molars are on the move. He's also been sick lately. So yeah, being a toddler is rough.

And a lot of tantrums are avoiding tantrum scenarios to begin with. Like giving him a toy to play with while I change his diaper.

But that doesn't mean that mama will give him everything he wants just so he'll be quiet. It doesn't mean he gets to throw things or smack his little hands against my legs in frustration. It doesn't mean that this mama will listen to him when he's whining about it.

Unfortunately for G, his mama is as stubborn as he can be.

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