It’s the precursor to the ‘Terrible Twos’ – the stage that we as parents have been dreading all along. With V however, the signs of the TTs (Terrible Twos) came in earlier than we imagined… as soon as he turned 18 months.
I don’t know how many of my readers here have toddlers, but Sirisha in an earlier post wrote of the ways she handles toddler tantrums.
Much to our horror, we discovered that V had turned violent. In his quest to assert his independence, he was, what I called it, “Going through teenage angst”. After all, when you are 19 ‘months’ you still qualify as a teenager! So tempers were flying every now and then. Deny him something that he wants and he would start hitting his own head with his hand, pinch himself on the cheek and screech at the loudest decibel… enough signs to get us worried.
By and by he learnt the fine nuance of self-defence. So if the kicks and slaps didn’t work then some head banging followed and when everything failed, he discovered that he has grown enough teeth to bite! Phew! Much of this experiment has been with us… his nanny and me.
Worried as much as I have been, I started looking up for ways to divert his mind and anger! I enrolled him into a summer camp. What better way to utilise nervous energy than spend it playing. I knew we had the risk of him venting his anger at other kids, but I soon realised that V was more patient with kids of his age. He would steer clear of the aggressive kids and play solo (which is a normal thing to do) and if someone wanted a toy that he was busy with, he would just cry. In the last one month I have not seen V retaliate and hurt another kid.
But has that affected his tantrums? I like to think that it has. He is growing more tolerant and I have learnt more ways to divert his mind. More so, I have learnt a few things about tantrums:
1) Don’t ignore but don’t give in either
A child is an attention magnet. That’s what he wants all day long. Everything that a child does or wants is an extension of his personality as an attention seeker. So tantrums are natural devices by which the child asserts his needs. And when has a child asked for something that is appropriate? Think of yourself when you were an adolescent and perhaps sported the rebellious streak! Yes… that… that is what your baby is like these days. So don’t ignore them altogether because anger feeds on itself. You have to show that you care, but don’t bend your rules for your child every time. I often use the deception of diversion and break into a rhyme, song or jingle. Sometimes I begin acting or bring in a new unseen item from my bag, cupboard or kitchen to divert his mind.
Children get bored soon. With an attention span of a teaspoon they can never sit still. Mine is steadily marching towards his second birthday but there are few moments of solo play. He wants someone around or a playmate at all times. Thanks to the summer camp, I am now looking at engaging him in more activities. I have discovered that he likes colours, so I have bought him colours and a drawing book. And I’m reading up on various activities that I can do with him. By the way, check out this if you haven’t discovered it already. Living Room Fort
3) Spot the signs and Predict
Trying to understand a child and figuring out if there is a pattern in his/her tantrums is quite an art by itself. For example, the way I discovered that V ‘looks back in anger’ only when we challenge his independence. He wants to assert himself. So look at your child and see if there are any tell-tale signs or is there a pattern to his tantrums? Anything can trigger a tantrum – a sound, an act, a toy, another child, our behaviour towards our other child, crowds. Be watchful and you will know what makes your child irritable.
Oh yes! That’s the one trick in the book that never fails. V is a total water baby and every time he throws a fit I lure him by saying ‘let’s go take a shower’! This ploy is used every day when I have to step out of the home in the morning. I hate to say goodbye and I hate to see him cry. So dunking himself in the tub, I love to hear his giggles as I walk out.
So what have you learnt about toddler tantrums? What’s your recipe for your toddler?
I recently read that the Terrible Twos grow up to become Tyrant Threes! There is little hope for us parents then…
The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.