Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taming of the Shrew

There's a moment that every mother fears, a moment we all know is inevitable, we've 
read the books and heard the horror stories: the moment your child transitions from a 
sweet smelling, cuddly infant to a temper tantrum throwing toddler.  The transition 
is seamless, the progression is natural and will take place before you even realize it.  
One minute, you're rocking your lullaby baby to sleep.  The next, she's rolling around on 
the kitchen floor, face beet red, screaming at the top of her lungs because you took the 
remote control away from her.  What's a mother to do?
Brees recently discovered the power of the temper tantrum.  For the last two weeks, 
she's been experimenting with regaining control of her master plan by throwing herself on 
the floor, crying, and screaming.  The first time it happened, I found myself staring at her 
in disbelief, not wanting to believe that this day had come.  Wasn't she a chubby little
 drooler just yesterday?  Was she seriously rolling around on the floor, stomping her feet 
and playing the drama queen role?

With Isabelle, I thought the temper tantrum phase was a living nightmare.  Her 
outbursts gave me anxiety, made me feel like a horrible mother, left me running 
around frantically trying to calm and soothe her.  The louder she cried, the more helpless 
I felt.  Our energies rubbed off on each other and the tantrums were exacerbated by 
our mutual frustrations.  We were definitely working on a learning curve: the first 
baby, wanting everything to be perfect, learning to deal with the real life situations you 
can never truly prepare for until you are living through them.
With Brees, we are in a different place.  We are older, we've been through this before.  
I've grown not only as a mother, but as a person.  I've learned to have more patience, 
take deep breathes, defined my boundaries and realized when it's time to take a step 
back.  With Brees, I realize that temper tantrums are an essential part of 
human development.  They are NOT the end of the world.  They are simply her toddler 
way of trying to establish control, attempting to claim her voice and get what she wants. 
 I think it's important to understand that, to appreciate what your child is experiencing.  
It makes disciplining them so much easier when you can empathize, understand where 
they are coming from.
With Brees, I realize that we are not going to get anywhere without patience.  I struggle 
with patience daily, I pray for it, hope for it, strive to BE it.  Some days I succeed, other 
days it all goes out the window.  But I keep trying, knowing that if I can stay calm, cool, 
and collected, most situations with my children will end up being a lot more productive.  
I try to look at the big picture: what is the temper tantrum about?  Is she just 
hungry?  Tired?  Could all of this be remedied with a good snack and/or a nap?  
Sometimes, it really is just that easy.  Babies can get really out of control when they 
are hungry and tired.  I know this because I feel the exact same way.  As with every 
other part of her life, I try to meet all of her needs first, ensure she has been fed and 
changed and is well rested, hold her if she needs extra affection.
Most of the time, though, the temper tantrums occur simply because she wants 
something she can't have, she wants to go somewhere she can't go.  So, I pick her up, 
bring her somewhere different, distract her, try to get her interested in a new toy, a 
song, something to take her mind off of her naughtiness.  You can't do THIS, but 
here's something you CAN do.  And then positive reinforcements, lots of praise.  And lo 
and behold, she usually forgets all about whatever it was she just put on an Oscar 
worthy performance for.  We move on, push forward, forge ahead.  On to the next phase, 
the next life lesson.  And just when I think that this phase is so difficult, Isabelle rolls her 
eyes at me and I am reminded that toddler hood is small potatoes...

You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  ~Franklin P. Jones

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7 comments:

MarieHarmony said...

Tell me about patience......I remember when I arrived as an au pair 5 years ago in Ireland the little one I was looking after was a Tempet Tantrum expert. I had a hard time with her but I learnt patience is key. I improved a lot.
I love to read how you changed from Isabelle to Brees and the great lessons you are learning every day from your little ones.
Take care Olivia. xx

Hilary@BabyMooHoo said...

nooo, sweet little brees is not allowed to become a full-fledged tantruming toddler! i prefer to think of her as entirely angelic, at all times :)

truly, this post hit home with me today. i had such a hard time remaining patient and understanding with natalie just yesterday, and i had to remind myself over and over that this is just a phase. some days it is so tough. what i always remark on is how quickly my perspective changes based on n's behavior--we had an AMAZING morning, overshadowed by a cranky afternoon... and then that miserable afternoon seemed to disappear in my mind as soon as i saw her run and snuggle her dad when he got home. this too shall pass, right? :)

deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

oh man, that second picture of brees on the pavement? yeah, that's owsley too. not only do our second children want to grow up more quickly, they also learn how to throw tantrums sooner! we've haven't had one in public (yet) but boy oh boy can owsley let loose if he's angry.

kriznizzel said...

Great post!!! she is sooo cute in the last shot, bless her.

Sweet Green Tangerine said...

Amen! I definitely take these tantrums with Jude much more patiently than I did with Jonathan.

Caitlin said...

Oh man, stuff like this makes me feel so terrified to have a kid! But as you said, it's all part of the process :)

Little Gray Pixel said...

I needed to read this today. Alexa can throw a tantrum, oh my. She also head-butts. It's scary how easily she'll thrash her head back with no consequence for what is behind her. I have a hard time taming my frustrations with her; something to work on.