By Kelly Gunzenhauser
So I thought I was getting off easy when my younger son came along and we were blessed with a child who had the sunniest disposition I have ever seen. He was a content, easy baby. Now, as a two-year-old, he kisses his preschool teachers after they change his diapers and tells everyone who will listen that he loves them. He can get a little feisty with his friends, but he’s usually a piece of cake at home.
By now you are all laughing at me and waiting for the other shoe to drop, and of course it has. My son has hit the tantrum stage. He is not a small kid and he’s strong as an ox, so tantrums are not minor events. Here is a list of some of the things that have set him off: socks too “waggy,” socks at all, shoes at all, getting dressed, wearing a coat, not getting his fingers in the right glove holes, wearing mittens instead, changing his diaper, going to the grocery store, going home from anywhere, getting strapped into his car seat, going to preschool, going to bed, reading only one book at bedtime, getting a bath, getting lotion on his eczema, brushing his teeth, having his fingernails cut, leaving a friend’s house, waking up from a nap, getting too many kisses, being asked what he wants for breakfast, getting the wrong color of cup, and when his brother looks at him.
The “best” tantrum by far was at the grocery store. He wasn’t in the mood for the store. I was of two minds. His tantrum was more whining than anything else—should I risk it? Maybe a cookie once we got inside would help. And, I don’t really like giving in to tantrums. And, I REALLY needed to go to the store! So off we went.
While we were there, he screamed at the absolute top of his lungs the whole time, “Put your stuff back!” He ran from one side of the store to the other and hid. He kicked and screamed every time I picked him up to move him to a new part of the store. He ran away from me and tried to escape out of the door into the parking lot; I only stopped him by grabbing the hood of his jacket. So many people offered help: “Can I get him a balloon? Can I get him a cookie? Can I hold him while you tie him to the cart?” (OK, just kidding about that last one.)
And just as many people came up to me and said, “I have 2 (3, 5, 10) kids and I have been there. It gets better.” (Yes, I know it does. The five-year-old evidence of that is calmly riding in the spaceship grocery cart.) And a few people looked at me like I was the world’s worst mother, you know, shaking their heads in that, “Wow, why can’t you control your child?” sort of way.
As I look back over the list of things that have set him off, I see that many of them are transitions and “have-to-dos.” Kids don’t like to change course until they are ready. The reality is, though, that sometimes we have to do what needs to be done, and I can’t accommodate his timetable. Like right now, while I am trying to finish this up quickly, and he is hanging on me and whining and lying in the floor and kicking. Now he’s telling me, “I don’t like you Mama,” even though the reason he’s mad is because he wants to play a game – with me. He must like me a little bit. Sometimes. But I know that soon, this stage will be over. And with it will go some of the “I love you’s!” and the constant smooching and the crawling in bed with me in the morning when he wakes up at 5:00am. He’ll be more reasonable, but a little more grown up, too.
So what are your favorite tantrum stories? And what are your tips for dealing with them?
* I thought you would enjoy a “post-tantrum” picture of the star of this post, shown at the top of the blog!