For the last week, my family and I have been away enjoying Disney World for the first time with all the kids. Little did I know, that this trip would push me to my limits like never before. I have seen my fair share of toddler tantrums. Sometimes they are in public, but mostly they’ve occurred at home. My friends, this was like no tantrum I had ever witnessed and I handled it completely wrong! This is not about how to handle your kids during a tantrum, but rather how YOU can cope with your child’s tantrum.
So, here is the scenario. It’s about 100 degree weather and Chi-Chi (3), Nugget (4), and I were waiting in line for the Toy Story ride. My hubs decided to take Pink (17) on a roller coaster ride instead. It was nearing 3pm and for the past few days, there have been no naps taken while we were at Disney. My hubs believes in getting the most of amusement parks, which means that we are there practically from open to close. I’m completely the opposite. Chi-Chi starts to have a fit because she wanted to be in the covered stroller as opposed to me holding her in line and wanted to see the Sofia the First character. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to take the stroller in the waiting line and our Fast-Pass was about to expire.
MISTAKE 1: I didn’t tell her what we were going to do beforehand.
Chi-Chi starts crying and throwing her limbs around like a mad person. I tried to calm her down by telling her what we were in line for, but at this point she couldn’t hear me over her crying. She now starts getting louder and louder and begins slapping me in the face. I start telling her to stop while holding her hands down. She continues to hit and I start holding her entire arms down.
MISTAKE 2: I stayed in the line during all this people!
I probably should have stepped out of line at this point, but I continue to think I had the situation under control. Plus, Nugget was really excited about the ride and I didn’t want to disappoint him. Now Chi-Chi is turning red. I mean literally red! She’s yelling, slapping, kicking, anything to get out of my arms. So, I place her on the ground to let her finish her tantrum. Meanwhile, I’m becoming SUPER embarrassed since everyone is now looking at me and my threenager having a tantrum.
MISTAKE 3: I let negativity enter my mind and allowed what I perceived as judgement affect me
Once I started to feel embarrassed and thinking that I was being judged, all my attention was placed on resolving how I was being perceived as a mother instead on the immediate concern….Chi-Chi. I recently heard a joke by a comedian (I wish I could remember her name) that it takes so little for a dad to be considered a great dad and so little for a mom to be considered a bad mom. This joke has started to become less of a joke and more of a truth to me over the last month. Clearly it’s a joke, but it’s had an effect on how much I do for my kids. No mother wants to be labeled a “bad mom.” I think I have been overcompensating the last month and it carried on over to my present situation. My priority during Chi-Chi’s tantrum was to stop what I thought were judging eyes. I failed to resolve the issue in the manner I knew how. I needed to allow Chi-Chi to calm herself in a safe environment. Instead, I placed her on the ground while still in line. She started kicking and rolling around on the floor!
MISTAKE 4: I picked her up and got on that ride!
Instead of leaving the line, I actually got on the ride thinking that I could be a good mom to Nugget and allow him this bit of joy and thought that Chi-Chi would get distracted by the fun. I WAS SO WRONG! Not only did she cry all the way to the front of the line, but she cried the entire time of the attraction. Side note: Thanks to all the wonderful people waiting in the line that allowed me to pass to the front. This was such a nice gesture, but in my present state only fed into my embarrassment.
Chi-Chi finally calmed at the very end of the ride. We were slowly pulling up to the ride dismount area when she started to point out the characters and smile. I was flabbergasted and angry! Angry at Chi-Chi for embarrassing me. Angry at my hubs for leaving me with both kiddos. Angry at all those judging eyes on me. Angry at myself for allowing myself to be affected by my what I perceived as judgement and I stayed angry for several hours.
MISTAKE 5: I was angry and let the tantrum effect me for several hours
After a long cooling off period, I evaluated the entire situation and couldn’t believe what I allowed to occur. There were so many mistakes that I made, which failed in calming the situation. Instead, I made the entire experience all about me and my feelings. Had my priority been on diffusing the situation and identifying Chi-Chi’s needs, I’m sure it would not have been the epic tantrum that occurred. This does not mean that she would have had her way, but tantrums are typically a result of the child’s loss of control, feelings of not being heard, and of course not getting something they want. Had I taken the steps to speak to her and listen, I’m sure things would have been different. Sure, we may not had been in the same spot in line, but it could had avoided so many of my feelings and Chi-Chi’s.
Learn from my mistakes!
Take it from me friends. Give your toddler that cooling off period. It’s so much better for your own sanity to allow your toddler to work through their feelings. Sure, you’ll have to wait longer in line, but at least you have a calmer situation. If you happen to be in the midst of a tantrum that is unavoidable, learn from my mistakes.
- Whatever you do, remain calm.
- If your child is not calming down, relocate to a new area that has decreased stimuli (a quiet corner or any less noisy area will do)
- It is perfectly normal for a child to have a tantrum, so avoid those feelings of embarrassment. It doesn’t do you any good to start thinking of what others may think of you. Frankly, who cares? This is your kid and you know what your kid needs.
- When the tantrum is all over, give your kiddo a hug and see if your toddler is ready to talk about their feelings. We are still working on Chi-Chi’s speech development, so I primarily ask her questions which she responds with either a yes/no or offers more information. Be sure to talk to them about what your expectations are. Share what the next steps will be.
- AND once again…. put your negative thoughts and feelings in a box for later. You need to acknowledge your own feelings about the situation. Don’t push them down, but box them up to evaluate later. You are definitely better skilled in doing this than your child.