Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tantrums From The Dark Side

 Holy toddler tantrum batman!!! Over the past week my adorable little creature feature has turned into Jekyll and Hyde. One moment he is totally fine and happy and the next moment he's having a meltdown. Doesn't take much to send him into hysterics either. Sometimes it is something as simple as needing to do a diaper change. Holy cow. Diaper changes in our household now closely resemble wrestling matches where Nicholas lays on the changing table screaming at the top of his lungs like you have just tried to rip his pecker off while twisting around trying to kick at you and won't let you hold his legs still to put another diaper on him. Super fun!! Just trying to hold his hand and get him to walk with you from point A to point B is also another tantrum trigger. Take hold of his hand and try to guide him anywhere and you had better have your ear plugs and that lifetime supply of patience handy. His usual routine in this situation is to scream and fall to the floor crying while you are left to stand there wondering what on earth you did to cause such a reaction. Obviously I don't hold his hand very often now since it is so offensive to him. Today the BIG tantrum was over where he was playing in the living room. We happen to have a fireplace in our living room which of course is not lit since it's July and we're in Florida. It is however not the best play for him to play since he often has the urge to try and climb into it. I asked him to come play with me a few feet away and he wouldn't. Since I can't hold his hand I often touch the back of his head to guide him in the direction I want him to go. It's an imperfect method b/c he can easily resist but it usually works. Not today though! He started fussing right away and when nothing fun could entice him away from sitting in the fireplace I had to give up on the avoid a meltdown idea and just pick him up and move him. Dear lord, you would have thought I had just tried to kill him. Nothing would console him afterwards either. I guess because of my background in animal behavior I tend to do a lot redirection as a way to defuse tantrum situations but today it wasn't working. I have read the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block and have been putting some of the advice within into practice in my communications with Nicholas. Toddler talk wasn't going to work today either lol. *Sigh* Somebody remind me why I want ANOTHER baby??? I forget LoL.

It's times like these when it sometimes becomes difficult to maintain even the illusion of calm when my tot seems determined to convince the neighborhood that I am killing him. I swear I have actually had neighbors ask me if everything is OK. Yup, nothing to see here folks just a high need toddler who's having a moment. Today he was in a bad mood for about an hour off and on of course. He went from reading a story with me on the couch to throwing all the books across the room. Oh boy... Let's try this again son :p I let him pick out another book from our stash and we read that one instead. He got mad again though when we finished it. He then plopped off the couch and ripped the book from my hand crying so I didn't even have the option of reading it to him again. He was in full toddler tantrum mode by that point and snatched one of MY books from a side table and started trying to look through the pages. Oh boy, that one isn't toddler proof like the various board books we have so I offered him another book in return and tried to take my book back from him. He proceeded to start trying to rip pages out of my book. HEY! OMG, That book is AUTOGRAPHED!!!!!!! Don't rip the page that says "Best wishes Leia, -Christine Feehan" out of it!!!  Arrrggghhhh!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Not cool! (also not cool that my copy of Dark Fire was within his reach and that's MY bad). I believe it is nap time!  That idea didn't go over well either and the before nap diaper change was a giant pain in the butt and a book before we laid down was out of the question. I am very glad that he is so small b/c it seemed like he was intent on beating me up. Pfffttt, I don't think so little guy! We settled for a few verses of the itsy bitsy spider sung at the top of my lungs to be heard over his angry howling and a very tired but still fighting it baby Nicholas layed down for a nap, well kind of. He fussed on and off for about ten more minutes and then he was out. I hoped he would sleep off the bad mood. Luckily for me he did and when nap time was over he had renounced the dark side and my Jedi mom skills allowed me to easily handle the evening's activities and still keep him happy.

Toddler's are basically little animals and they can't help their mood swings I know. That doesn't stop me from being frustrated from time to time which I hear is totally normal. The so called terrible twos (which in this case happen to be terrible one and a half's lol) are also normal. Toddlers are just now learning to cope with life and tantrums are to be expected. How one should handle these tantrums, well that's up to the individual. I happen to believe in a more positive approach and while I don't give in and let little Nicholas walk all over me I also try very hard not to make a big deal about tantrums. It's just fact of life and we deal with it. I don't believe in physical forms of discipline at this stage and most of the time opt to just ride it out so to speak. I notice the less of a reaction I have to his behavior the less extreme it is. That's not to say I ignore him but I often ignore the behavior. Meaning I may try to talk to him and help  him through a situation or I may try to redirect his attention onto something else without really adding fuel to the fire by getting upset over the tantrum itself. The way I see it is why focus on the tantrum itself when you can focus on a solution to whatever the issue is and end the shrill screams :) Let him experience and express his feelings and be as supportive as your ear drums can handle while attempting to help him move on and into a happier activity. That said I do also believe in picking you battles!!!! :) Sometimes it's just not worth the tantrum!! I will be glad when this stage of life is over. It will be a relief he is old enough to think more calmly through life's various situations and doesn't need to meltdown in order to express himself. Until then, bring it on Baby Gods. You're gonna have to do better than this to frighten me ! :p

(Anyone want to take bets on whether or not that last statement is going to jinx me into 18 months of toddler tantrum hell? LoL)

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