Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
I don't remember much of my toddler hood so can't really say whether my mother had to face loud displays of temper tantrums. I can always ask her but scared that I might not like her reply. In my later years I do remember that if I wanted anything, I just had to convince my mother that it was very useful to me. I tried to convince her that buying a basketball for me would develop my muscles and increase my height. Eating Maggie keeps me calm and focused. TV is good company to Math homework. Yeah, she didn't buy it, but it was worth the effort anyway.
So coming to the present, when my daughter was nearing the age of 2, she would ask for stuff. Slowly she started demanding. If we refused, she would cry and lie down on my lap. After sometime she would forget about it and go on with her usual activities. It was as if by lying on my lap she would get all charged up to pursue all her other activities. She completed her two years with increasing tendencies of demanding stuff and increasing volumes of displeasure when we refused. Somewhere deep in my memory I could hear my elder sister talking about this syndrome called 'terrible twos'. I was terrified to discover this totally different personality emerging in my sweet little angel. I researched on the net about terrible twos, I spoke to all my other friends with two and three year olds. They looked at me with understanding and compassion. "Welcome!", they said, "it only gets worse as the age progresses. Scientists have discovered terrible threes also. Research is underway for four year olds and above". I was in shock, but at the same time relieved that I was not going through this alone.
So what's all this fuss about. Well at this age the child is old enough to ask for everything but doesn't comprehend that some of those things are not safe or he is not big enough to handle them. We start by saying no to most of his demands and that's when he learns a new word 'No'. So then it becomes a power struggle between the parent and the child when the child will often test the former's patience and will by demanding stuff or refusing to go by the parent's rules. When forced the child will resort to express his anger in the form of tantrums. It is complicated by the fact that we as parents hate to see our child crying but at the same time we do not want to give in to his unreasonable demands. Most of the times it is just a cry for attention. When the tantrum is in full display at public places like parks and department stores, where the whole world is a witness, you cringe and just want it to stop. So is there any solution to stop it? Well it is not a magic fix that can stop your child from throwing a fit, but you can at least give a shot to minimize it.
Best thing to start with is to accept the fact that when the child wants something, no amount of threatening, scolding or spanking is going to stop it. Violence is not a solution but will just aggravate the child. Remember that you are the adult and have to keep calm in the storm. If you are in a public place, just take your child away and hold him or talk to him calmly. Some children may not like holding but stay close to them till the tantrum passes away. Reassure your child that you love him, but what he is asking for is unreasonable. Keep it short as no child in the throes of tantrum will be willing to listen to long lectures. If you have refused something, do not give in after the child has cried for sometime as it just means that you have made the child cry unnecessarily. Also pick your battles because not everything is worth fighting for. The other day my daughter wanted to play with water and I allowed her to do that. She was happy during this time, I got to do some of my cleaning work and it just involved change of wet clothes since she got bored after 15 minutes. For the dangerous stuff insist that the child follows your rules. I have also discovered that it helps if you avoid the tantrum triggers. If my daughter spotted the ipad, laptop or even phones she would want us to play ba ba black sheep all day long. Me and my husband eventually stopped using the afore mentioned gadgets in front of her. It seemed like a big sacrifice initially but it significantly reduced the 'ba ba' tantrums. Distraction also works. When the child is focused on obtaining something, distract him with other toys, books or activities. When the child needs your attention drop everything and give him your attention for half hour at least. This really helps as when the child is occupied you can carry out your chores in peace.
All these tips are based on my experience and may not be suitable for everybody. But I can assure you some of them do work. Do not feel embarrassed in front of others as most of them (at least the parents) would have gone through this at some point of their life and as far as strangers are concerned, well you don't know them anyway so it doesn't matter. The title of this article says taming, but in the end it is all about love and patience. Soon the tantrums will reduce (I didn't stay stop) or you will get used to them ;).