Now, back when Gavin was younger, say around 2, he threw some decent tantrums (or so I thought at the time). Sure, we had the the "I don't want to go" tantrums and the "I don't want to eat that" tantrums, but who doesn't? At the time, these pesky little tantrums tested my patience and frustrated me, but looking back, they were nothing. At best, they lasted five minutes, involved some crying, screaming, and an occasional throwing of the body onto the ground. I had no idea what they could manifest into.
Suddenly, shortly before Gavin turned 3, he gained a whole new set of skills relating to temper tantrums. The first really good one occurred after we left a McDonald's play place. The problems started the moment Gavin entered the play place. He wanted to slide and go through the tunnels, but he was scared. So, he would get halfway up, into some hard-to-see and not easily accessed area of the play place, and then start crying. "I don't want to slide down the slide." Then don't. Just come back down, and we'll go home. So, down he would come, only to start crying, "I want to slide down the slide." But you just said you didn't want to slide down the slide. Back into the play place he would go, only to decide he didn't want to slide. And back and forth we went, until finally, exhausted, I told him we were leaving.
Commence tantrum. He crawled back into the play place, and I crawled in after him, picked him up, and set him on the chair to put his shoes on. As I did this, all hell broke loose. He started swinging at me, and he even connected a few times. He screamed, "Mommy, STOP!" over and over until every person in the place was staring at me like I was hurting my child. There was spitting and kicking; it was a sight to see. I somehow managed to stay calm, carry him over my shoulder (still kicking, screaming, and acting like I was torturing him), and strap his naughty butt in the car seat. Whew! I thought. Now that were out of there, he'll calm down. Oh, how naive I was.
|The famous McDonald's Tantrum.|
|This tantrum was a 9 out of 10. Notice he has no shoes on.|
I'd like to pretend that this type of tantrum only happened once, but you'd have to give me a seriously strong whack on the head (and not with a shoe, please) to make me forget some of the other ones. Gavin seems to have a preference to grocery store tantrums. These usually involve screaming, kicking, standing up in the front of the cart, hitting, throwing things, and (of course) statements that make people think I'm beating him. My favorite part, though, is when he starts yelling, "I want to hit my mommy!" Nice, kid, nice. I'm sorry, let me just go ahead and allow you hit me. Feel better now? Great! Once, I walked through Meijer, pulling the cart from the front (my solution to him trying to hit me, which makes him yell about how he wants to hit me), while he hollered for almost 35 minutes. And the whole time, I smiled at all the other shoppers like I was trying out to be the next Miss America. (I momentarily stopped to document the tantrum with a photo, of course)
So, how do I get him to calm down and eventually stop throwing a tantrum. I just let it run its course. I'm sure there are better methods, but my thinking is this: It's pretty hard being a toddler, having all these feelings and not knowing how to express them. Sometimes, they just need to get them all out. So, purge my child, purge. And you know what, when he's done and all the bad feelings are purged, he's really great the rest of the day. (I do, of course, dole out consequences for the hitting - but more on that another time.) Seems like a fair trade for 35 minutes of embarrassing and frustrating hell!