How to Survive a Temper Tantrum

Emotions in my little people are big.  They come seemingly out of the blue, and they sweep through the house taking down everything in their path.  Sometimes I can see them coming and try to respond proactively, but often times I am as surprised by them as my children are.  Fortunately, I’ve had significant practice with my M in the past few years dealing with these big emotions, but now little W has officially entered the 2’s and is spreading his wings as well.  It is not uncommon for them both to be melting down about something at the exact same time.  In those moments, I am convinced the universe is against me and that I cannot possibly make it until bedtime.  Like every storm however, things eventually dissipate and the rainbow appears.  Sort of.

I got pulled into one of these storms the other day with W.  He didn’t want his water bottle, so he put it on the counter.  Then he cried and asked for it.  I gave it to him.  Then he told me he didn’t want it.  I put it on the counter.  Then he cried and asked for it.  I gave it to him.  Then he told me he didn’t want it.  Oh, the glorious emotional cycle of a toddler.  He was wailing at this point, and I was frustrated too. My preferred response is usually to walk away.  It’s my “nothing more to see here folks” mentality.  It sure beats standing there feeling ineffective and frustrated.  This time was different however.  Little W threw himself into my arms and put his head down on my shoulder.

Now, I am a complete sucker for that little blonde head on my shoulder and those chubby arms around my neck, but he reminded me of something so important in that moment.  I have read countless times about how overwhelming emotions are for our children.  As big and as frustrating and as out of control as those emotions seem to us, our children are experiencing that in a much more magnified way. Additionally, as much as we would rather walk away and let them work it out on their own, there are certain instances when they need us to stay.  They need our physical touch and reassuring presence to get back to center again. By no means is that easy and honestly the last thing I want to do most of the time is to throw my arms around the crazy (even if he is really cute).  It’s by imagining what those feelings must feel like to my children however that gives me the empathy and compassion to stay in that moment with them. That’s how I survive.

It’s also important to mention that walking away from a temper tantrum while our children work it out definitely has its place.  It’s our own intuition that allows us to see the difference. The other morning I walked away from M as she pitched a fit about a blueberry muffin. “Peace out sister,” I thought to myself.  “I’ll catch you on the flip side.”  And I did.  That moment was not a “hold her through it moment,” and as moms we are really good at knowing the difference. So, the next time you find yourself in a moment of crazy (which should be in about the next 10-15 right?), remember how out of control those emotions are to the little beings we love the most.  Take a deep breath, hold them through it, and you will survive it too.

Find the joy~