Friday, July 14, 2006

kicking and screaming

I haven't written a lot about my kid even though my kid takes up the majority of my life. And now I am going to go and write about the currently not so nice part about my kid. Please, of course, let me preface this with the statement that I love my kid beyond all things imaginable, she is amazing, brilliant and lovely, and she is incredibly adored by J-dog and myself.

But seriously - this temper tantrum thing is for shit. At 22 months, we've had a relatively easy go of it (I mean, I fell apart and lost my mind, but my kid seemed to be on track, breathing, eating, walking, laughing, and so on). Lately and out of nowhere, we'll get six or seven crying, hysterical, kicking, screaming tantrums A DAY. (an hour?). Being unused to children in general and certainly unused to those who will not be reasonable, it has caused us a bit of concern. While I KNOW it's normal/developmental/books talk about this/I really do know it's normal... I am really wanting MY response to be the right one. Right now I do not give in, and I step over the writhing body on the floor and leave the room. Sometimes she gets a time out depending on if the tantrum has resulted from something I asked her to do and she refused, like, say, wash some clothes or make dinner. kidding. After it's all said and done and she is once again in her own body we hold her and talk about what happened and why it isn't ok. She generally agrees and pats my on the shoulder in commiseration. Then we repeat the whole thing all over again in about an hour.

How do other people handle this sort of thing?


the womom said...

Hi Jen. Thanks for getting back to me. You can get a hold of me at

Developmentally, your 22 mos old sounds right on track---even though tantrums totally suck. I'm not a big proponent of time-outs at this age---although sometimes moms need them just to regain her sanity---and that is quite all right.
What I have found that works the best is to stay close and listen without trying to fix. It looks a little like this: "I'm sorry you can't have 36 bananas in a row. I know it's not fair, but that's the rules." And just hold her and let her cry. The cry and the upset needs to come no matter what, and if she doesn't get it out the first time, she'll get it out over the course of the day (the 6-7 times you mention). Since she doesn't speak much, you won't really know what she's upset over, but the healing will come with the big cry. I read that her favorite answer right now is "yeah," so you can try and guess what the true upset is, but you might never know.

I know that many behavioralists think that giving a child attention while they are tantruming will give the impression that the way to achieve attention is through tantruming, but I don't agree with that philosophy. I think if you try to "listen" and allow her to get her feelings out the tantrums will subside in the course of a few weeks. And you will probably feel better being there, also.

Sheila said...

Sometimes you can cry, sometimes you can laugh hysterically like youve gone mad - I had a friend with triplets that wore a tiara and everytime she passed a mirror she would have a laugh at herself. I have twin girls (23 months) and everything you've written is true. Nuts one minute and then thank goodness they are so lovely and sweet the next. After reading a few of your posts, its refreshing that someone has written about this motherhood mystery with great honesty and humor. Keep up the good work!