Shortly after Mr A turned 20 months, we entered the realm of epic meltdowns.
Oh, he used to throw tantrums previously when he didn’t get his way. But back then, it was easy to distract him and get him to move on to something else. The tantrums were rather painless. Mostly.
But these days, gosh, the meltdowns can only be classified as epic.
Don’t want to go home. CRY.
Don’t want to leave the carpark. CRY.
Don’t want to sit on high chair and have dinner. THROW SELF ON FLOOR AND CRY.
Don’t want to walk into the bathroom. THROW SELF ON FLOOR AND CRY.
Don’t want to read Book A. CRY.
Don’t want to wear this pair of sandals. YELL.
Don’t want to let go of the mobile phone. THROW SELF ON BED AND CRY.
You get the drift.
In fact, he is like Chicken Little, judging by the way he expresses his unhappiness. It’s as if the world is ending if he does not get to stand at the carpark and look at cars zooming by downstairs. Never mind that our flat has a nice, clear view of the roads below. Because mama, I MUST look at the cars NOW and HERE AT THE CARPARK WAAAAAAAAH.
Mostly, we ignore him. If he is lying prostrate at the doorway because sitting on the high chair is a terrible thing to do for him at that moment, I’ll tell him, calmly, “Alright, you don’t want to sit on the high chair. Mama is hungry and I will have dinner first. You come and join me when you are ready.” And then I’ll walk away and have my dinner at the dining table. Chances are, he will follow suit in a matter of minutes. And if the tantrum occurs outside, we usually remove him from the scene, again calmly, and then let him cry and complain in the car for a while. It typically doesn’t take long before he is okay.
I try not to get upset or pissed off over it but it’s hard. It’s been a long day at work, my sleep is still interrupted and the last thing I want is to have a screaming kid in front of me. It’s really tough to bite my tongue and hold back my anger and frustration. The good thing about being a mother is that my hide has grown really thick so I am not embarrassed when the kid acts up in public. Hah!
Apparently, the months between 18 to 21 are a developmental transition for our toddlers. They are at the stage where they want to establish their social independence and yet many of them lack the verbal abilities to exert their will. Plus, they are still needing security and love from mama and papa. It’s not an easy time for these tots. No wonder their sleep is shot (18-month-regression, don’t say I didn’t warn you) and their behaviour, obnoxious. (I may or may not have called my son “the little asshole”.)
This website has an extensive list of tips that you can use on your tantrum-ing toddlers. It’s certainly shaped the way I parent my toddler and I hope it helps you too.
Oh, and good luck. We are all going to need it.