I have experienced the dreaded Temper Tantrum. Yesterday M threw a full on tantrum complete with kicking, screaming, and crying. I thought I would be one of those lucky people who would never have to experience this horror. I have been babysitting for a long time for many different families and this was my first tantrum. Being in the situation reminds me that it's not that easy to follow the advice about tantrums.
1. Stay calm. It's very hard to stay calm when you have a screaming child right in front of you. The pressure builds up because they are usually trying to resist something you told them to do. I found it very helpful to let M scream a little and take some deep breaths. This calmed me down and made the situation managable. It wouldn't have been good for M to get more upset because I was upset.
2. Pick your battles. Sure, it's easy to say that now. In the situation it's hard to know whether it really was important or not. Take my experience, M didn't want to change out of her wet clothes into dry ones (we were having fun doing the dishes). It was important that she didn't wear wet clothes because it was cold. This was an issue that I wasn't going to give to her. She didn't understand the logic that she would get cold and that it's not good to wear wet clothes. I still think that it's important now after looking back. Earlier though she didn't want to wear her sweater so that we could go to the park. Instead of her getting upset about it, I gave her a choice; she could wear the sweater and we could go to the park, or we would say home. Surprisingly she chose to stay home. Based on how tired she was I knew that I would be running into trouble if I had forced the issue of the sweater. Looking back it's not that important, but then I was very frustrated with M. I knew that she would have had a lot of fun at the park and she would have been in a better mood with some fresh air. Next time I'm going to take a deep breath and think about the bigger picture.
3. Give children minor choices. This bit of advice is meant as a prevetion method. I have tried this and M outsmarted me. Back to the sweater issue. I said " M, we're going to the park. Would you like to wear your sweater or your jacket?" M said "NO." Even with the choice she wanted nothing to do with it.
I'm sure this won't be M's last tantrum. She is two and becoming very independent. What are your experiences with tantrums? Do you have any good strategies to combat them? I'd love your comments on this blog to help me and other caregivers and mommys.