Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Handling a toddler's tantrums

Vito's only 18 months old but his Terrible Twos stage started early--maybe at 15 months. We're not surprised, Vince and I. We both have spectacular tempers, volatile and fearsome when unleashed, so to see it in our little boy is not so shocking. In fact, it's a bit easier to handle because I put myself in Vito's shoes and respond to him the way I want to be treated when I'm furious. And how is that? With absolute calm and patience.

Still, I am always on guard when Vito is in full tantrum mode, knowing that I can never allow myself to become angry, too. You see, I come from a family that has anger management issues and some family members are quick to use their hands and fists at the slightest provocation. I still remember my Mama saying ominously, "Stop crying or I'll really give you a reason to cry." To my recollection, she always just issued that threat, never truly carried it out, but I speak for myself and not for my siblings. Well, Mama changed when she became a Born-Again Christian, so I'm glad that conversion of faith happened. And, for the record, my Papa has always been a kind and gentle man. Sadly, for other members of my family, no amount of studying the Bible or attending church changed their abusive ways.

So with that family background, I am very wary of my temper. I've actually changed, too. I think age and happiness have a lot to do with it. When people say, "Look at how you took to motherhood. You should've done this when you were younger!", I disagree. I think that if I had gotten pregnant in my 20s, I think I'd have made a horrible mom. Not that I'm saying young moms are horrible--I'm just talking about me. The younger me wasn't really a nice person. She had a lot of issues.

Now that I'm a mommy to a little boy who's very much like Vince and me, I'm very very patient with him, very self-aware. I give myself (not him!) time outs, meaning if he's screaming his head off, I put him down on the floor and breathe in and out calmly. I try to remember that when I'm very upset, it's because
a) I'm not getting my way
b) no one understands me,
c) I'm tired and frustrated or
d) I'm unhappy.

Because of those self-realizations, I know that it's extremely frustrating for Vito to not get what he wants, to have such limited vocabulary and to be unable to express himself and his needs fully. I'm an adult so I can stand back and understand him as another person. I'm also his mother so I can empathize and stretch the limits of my patience and understanding because I want him to be happy.

So the things that help me handle my toddler's tantrums are:
1. Mommy timeouts
2. Putting myself in his shoes
3. Reminding myself that I'm his mother

Oh, and there's one more thing that helps: prayer. Prayer helps big time. I'm no saint and sometimes even with that list up there, I can feel my patience running dangerously thin. Sometimes, it does snap. I haven't done anything I'd have regretted but I've felt things that I wish I didn't. So I pray, pray, pray. I start praying when Vito starts his tantrums. And I've found that just saying, "Lord, please help me!" is enough to calm my frazzled nerves.

I believe God really does help. After all, with all the sins I've committed against Him, He's had a lot of practice being patient with me. I believe He pours on me His parental patience and that's what keeps me sane with Vito!

P.S. Vito's not having a tantrum in that photo, by the way! He's just being lazy after playing with his toy car. But, yup, that's what he looks like when he's throwing a fit!

7 comments:

  1. I also need mommy timeouts since I get angry wit. H my kids too easily and I need to change that! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. OMG, Frances! This is so helpful!

    Anika's in that stage too. If she doesn't get what she wants, she'll go to the corner and sulk with arms crossed. Then pagwala pa din, she'll lay on the floor and do na the full on trantrums!

    Hinahayaan ko na lang, tumitigil naman. Pagsinuyo kasi, I'm afraid she might get spoiled eh..

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  3. Hi Frances, i'll keep this in mind when my turn comes! =) btw, thought of sharing this nice (and funny!) read with you (you may have read it but just in case. . . )

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-isenman/moms-of-boys_b_1320116.html

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  4. Hi Frances. May our God always give you wisdom how to raise your lovely children. Keep on blogging. It's a blessing :-)

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  5. I can relate the way you wrote this. I have no complaint by how my parents raised me but I think I could have been better person sans scolding and spanking. That’s their old school of disciplining kids.

    I have a bad temper too. I bet because I was raised that way. I am trying to control it in dealing with my own kid but sometimes, I can't help by yell in frustration. That’s why I appreciate your tips. As a mom, there are a lot of homeworks to do...it goes beyond battling your own issues.

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  6. oh gosh, i noticed that the terrible two's really start around 15 months, peaks at around 18 months, and then tapers off around 2 to 2.5 years old. Don't worrym they usually calm down when they are around 3 years old... :)

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  7. My Ate and I were dealt with the conservative way (palo)! But we both agreed that if our kids have tantrums we must try to snap them out of it or have fun with with the kids.

    Ex1: early on our kids would throw tantrum we put them infront of a mirror! It actually stops them, puzzled then they end up watching themselves and slowly stop crying! Then the "lets try what I look faces" games begin.

    Ex2: my nephew was throwing a big one, my Ate decided if you cant beat them join'em! She cried and yelled and kicked the whole hubaloo. My nephew stopped crying, trying to figure out how to out do his Mum! it was all funny, it worked all the time!

    But I like your suggestions too!

    Any suggestions on how to tame an 8yrs old lips? The freedom of speech really bugs me!

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This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!