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