It's Called a Tantrum. All Kids Do It.
Do You Need More?
Don't Judge Me
You could be next.
We've all been somewhere when some random child decides to lose his/her mind and go completely bonkers. We've all seen the parent[s] react (or not) to said child. We've all been guilty of negatively judging said parent for the monster's behavior, even if the judgment was only for a nanosecond.
And if you think your kids would never behave badly, you clearly don't have any.
Here's My Story
This is about the time I went with the Devil to Walgreens.
At some point, each of us has come into contact with a screaming child. Maybe it was at the grocery store, perhaps in a clothing store, maybe at a restaurant. The location does not matter. The fact is: You have experienced it. And if you don't have any kids, or if your children are all grown up, then you may have even looked at the parents with mild (or overt) disgust.
Well in mid-December, I had that child. We were at Walgreens. Things had been going well. The kids were walking around the store with me. We went to purchase Mucinex for Buddy (he'd been stuffed up and coughing like crazy). The munchkins were trying to talk me into buying them toys. I explained (again) that Christmas is next week and Sweets' birthday is also next week, so there was really no need to buy toys. The munchkins, being the little smarties and master manipulators that they are, switched their attention to candy.
I agreed that they could grab one little thing. Sweets selected a candy cane. Buddy picked out a lollipop. All good. Both together would only cost a dollar. So I felt like I was really getting a good deal. We got in line. Buddy asked me to open his lollipop. I told him we had to pay first.
And that's the exact moment he went BALLISTIC. It was like a demon flew in and possessed his little body. The best part was that for a little bit, he was screaming "pretty please". He hasn't quite figured out that the way he delivers "pretty please" is equally as important as saying it in the first place.
So I just stood there completely ignoring him. We were the next people in line. No worries. It didn't bother me at all that he was standing next to me, looking up at me, yelling at me NOT to pay for the lollipop. But it was apparently too much for the old lady working the counter. She stopped ringing the guy up, looked at me. I smiled. She looked at Buddy and said in a reprimanding old lady way, "You are going to have to go outside young man if you don't stop that."
I was annoyed, but I didn't say anything to her. Buddy took care of her all on his own. He stopped yelling. Turned and looked at her. Squinted his eyes... if I could have ventured into his little head I am sure I would have heard, "Challenge Accepted Walgreens Hag." Because now it was our turn to pay. He kicked his tantrum into high gear. Complete with ear piercing screams. Insane kicking. He even threw himself to the ground and flailed around until I was finished paying.
By this point we actually had spectators. Sweets politely thanked the lady when she got her candy cane. The lady looked at me questionably and all judgy... I smiled my best fake grin, shrugged and said "He's exorcising his right to be three."
I mean, what good would it have done to apologize for him? Why should I have needed to explain to a stranger that my irrational 3 year old essentially wants to steal the lollipop and is screaming because I won't let him? And what good would it have done to open the lollipop for Buddy? Not a bit of good that's what.
Then I picked the spawn of Satan off the ground. Sweets handed me his shoe (he actually lost it during his anger seizure). And we calmly walked out of the store.
Once we made it to the car and both kids were buckled, they got their candy. Buddy immediately reverted to the sweet boy we know him to be. I used the ride home to calmly discuss the disaster that just took place.
Tantrums: Par for the Course
I'd be willing to bet that toddler tantrums are most parents least favorite development stage. But they are a necessary evil. They seem to come out of nowhere and vary in lunatic strength. And it feels like, at least in my case, that most of them happen in front of strangers. Ugh.
If you have itty bitty ones now and haven't spent much, if any, time in this zone, it's important to realize that the way you react to the tantrums is crucial. Although this is much easier said than done. Trust me.
When my kids are in the throws of a nasty screaming tantrum, I constantly need to remind myself of the following:
- Don't worry about who's watching. If you give in to the tantrum because strangers are around, your tiny manipulator will realize this and it will come back to bite you.
- Make sure he/she is in no danger of physical danger. Sometimes the tantrums become slightly seizure-like, and it is important to make certain that your little one is going to be safe for the duration of the ride. If there is a chance for danger, move him/her to a safer place.
- Remember, you are the adult. It seems ridiculous, but I have to repeat this frequently. I am the grown-up. I am the one in charge. I'm the boss. Don't give in just to make it stop. We are in a struggle for power - WIN!
- Do not overreact. Yelling back (or over the screaming) does not help. It will just prolong the tantrum.
Again, I am not claiming to be perfect. This is something that I struggle with all the time when my tiny kids turn into little monsters. Luckily, there are plenty of other Mommies (and Daddies) out there in the same situation.
We're All in This Together
When your LO is in the throws of a fit, what's the hardest thing for you?
Diagnose and Treat
Kids throw tantrums for a reason. We may not know what the reason is, but they have one. For the young ones (like 2 or 3 years old), most of their fits are in response to an inability to express their thoughts or feelings. But older ones can throw them too.
My daughter, 6, is amazing. She's so smart, beautiful and funny. She will always be my #1. But over the past year, we have been having some issues with our sweet girl. She seems to disappear every once in a while. And her body becomes possessed by Satan. Seriously, it's like one minute we are having this great conversation with a completely brilliant 6 year old, then BANG! She's a 15 year old @$%#^ and we have no idea what happened.
I have spent the last year or so trying to figure out where this is coming from. In our life, there are 2 major things that happen to the my 3 kids (Stu's included here). Major Meltdown happens when  they are StuHungry or  StuSleepy. StuHungry and StuSleepy are so called because well, the symptoms are directly inherited from my husband Stu. Imagine yourself hungry or tired. Picture your irritability. Now multiply it by 1000, add screaming, a handful of tears, and a touch of lethargy. That's the Stu version of hungry and sleepy.
So naturally, when the Devil joins us at home, I try to immediately eliminate or at least diagnose StuHungry or StuSleepy. Once I have determined which one it is, I can pretty easily end the crazy and our lives can go back to being awesome.