My sweet Reese is now 21 months old. Up to this point, we have some how avoided the whole “public meltdown” fiasco. I don’t know why, I just assumed it was because I’m such a good parent so she had no reason to throw fits.
Over the last few weeks, the tantrums have become a little more, um, frequent. I can pretty much tell when they’re going to happen but for some reason whenever they do, I still feel myself slowly spinning into a panic attack… red face, sweat forming in all the wrong places, saying weird things to strangers I pass while frantically removing ourselves from the public eye… “Kids, you can’t take them anywhere!” As a side note, I wouldn’t suggest making comments to anyone. The awkward stares that generally follow usually just make matters worse.
I like to think of myself as a problem-solver at times, but for the most part, I really would prefer to be a problem-avoider. So instead of figuring out how to handle the meltdown effectively, I usually find myself trying to figure out why it happened in the first place. Because if I figure THAT out, the tantrums will stop! Right? Am I right?
Yeah, no, that’s definitely wrong.
Here’s the thing about most almost two year olds: they are barely scratching the surface of how to have self control. And they don’t have it figured out yet. They also handle their emotions very differently based on their developmental level.
It’s funny to me that as adults, we don’t have much patience for this. Yet we expect other people to totally excuse us when WE are the ones lashing out because something makes US mad. Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “Stop acting like such a child!” Well, telling your child to stop having meltdowns, throwing tantrums, and acting out is like saying “stop acting like a child.” The problem is, they ARE a child.
Tantrums are teachable moments if we can direct them in the right way. It’s not unreasonable to expect that our children behave but we have to teach them that. I see a lot of parents ignore meltdowns. But I think that is when our kids need us the most. Can you always reason with a two year old? Haha. NO. But you can help guide them through those scary moments.
1. Walk with them away from the situation (prepare for kicking and flailing about at this point)
2. Do your best to remain calm and talk in a voice that is going to turn away wrath, not stir it up
3. Watch in amazement how quickly your little ray of sunshine returns to their former pre-tantrum glory.
4. Don’t let yourself be bothered by the disapproving stares of others. They either don’t have children or are too far removed from that stage of their children’s lives to give you the grace you need.
But whatever you do, don’t say things like “Anybody want my kid?” It just makes things awkward.