Saturday, April 02, 2005

Toddler Tantrums

Do you ever wonder why your best friend’s child is always such a little angel while you seem to be the mother of a tempestuous toddler? Of course, if she is a true friend, she’ll tell you about all of the times her darling Debbie has emptied out her makeup drawer, drawn on the walls, and flushed her favorite lipstick down the toilet. If she isn’t a true friend, she’ll just smile smugly as you struggle to gain control of a child who has suddenly developed jellylike arms and legs. She’ll tell you that this is a phase, and how she is sure things will be better for you tomorrow. All the while, her angelic child looks on in confusion as your child emits another ear-spitting howl.

If this is a semi-accurate picture of your life, take heart. You are not alone. When do the terrible toddler tantrums hit? Who can say? Some babies begin to exert their independence by the time they are eighteen months old. Others, like my daughter, may seem perfectly fine until they reach the age of three. Then, watch out!

While you secretly long for the peaceful days when your baby could only smile at you from her infant seat as she waited for you to attend to her every need, you must find some way to handle your screaming two-year old who is demanding the latest Polly Pocket as you try to subtly disappear into the supermarket aisle.

As you attempt to shush your child, you smile self-consciously at other shoppers as they try not to notice your inability to control your child. What’s a mom to do? Are you completely inept at handling your toddler? Can a two year old really get the best of you?

Obviously, there isn’t a magical cure for handling your toddler’s worst moments. However, you can and should set limits for your child. He needs to understand that his tantrums will not receive positive results. Do not give in to your child, no matter how much easier it may seem at the moment! You are only prolonging the inevitable! Instead, you should find ways to make it more difficult for your child to continue in his behavior.

If this means walking out of a store and leaving a shopping cart full of groceries that you haven’t been able to pay for yet, then so be it! Yes, it will be difficult, and it won’t be very pleasant, but you are the one in charge, not your child. It may help you to keep repeating that mantra over and over. Once you get home, place your child in a time out. Explain to him that he will never, NEVER, get a toy or other special gift if he continues to act in an unacceptable manner, and stick to it! Consistency is the key! Eventually, your child will believe that you are the one in charge, and whether he realizes it or not, life will be simpler for you both.
by Susie McGee

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