Tantrums, and how to deal

As I wrote in my last post which you can read here, there are tons of lessons I continue to pick from my therapy sessions. I am grateful I have been able to pull through the haze that Postpartum Depression is. I realize that the road to recovery is long and winding, and there are many things to learn and many more to unlearn. I did mention that for me, anger and intrusive thoughts were the most intense struggles when I was deep in PPD. I have blogged about this extensively too…and so for that reason, the two entities have been at the forefront of my therapy sessions.

This is the second installment of takeaway lessons from session II when my therapist and I sought to unearth the real issues masked by anger. In the last post, I touched on dealing with my expectations, letting the child be and the anger curve. In today’s post, I will look at 3 more pointers that continue to help me on the road to PPD recovery. Hopefully, this will help another mom as well.

  • Tantrums are a normal part of childhood. Let me write that again for emphasis purposes, and so that you can also read it again: TANTRUMS ARE A NORMAL PART OF CHILDHOOD. The moment you understand that, you are better placed to respond, not react (I am preaching to myself too) By definition, a tantrum refers to a sudden emotional meltdown in kids and is typically associated with whines, tears, screaming, defiance and stubbornness.

Read More: #SnapshotsforSanity

One minute your little one is enjoying cartoon, the next they are screaming their lungs out because the cartoon didn’t do something/cartoon ended/ cartoon slept.. you get the drift. According to this study, at the heart of the tantrums is your child’s inability to express themselves coherently. It is worsened by the fact that the child understands a lot more of what they hear, yet their language is still so limited. Pause and think about how frustrating it is. It is this inability to express their feelings that births tantrums. They are in fact, very very normal. Write it down and post it above your bed if you must. You are not poor at parenting; your little one is just growing as they should.

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Tantrums can be very frustrating

  • The next thing therefore would be, just how do you handle a tantrum?> What do you do in the midst of ear-piercing screams complete with body contortions? Instinctively, the first response would be to join in the scream fest, telling the little child to stop it. It is a very frustrating moment, yet, instead of looking at tantrums as an apocalypse (even though your house may seem like it just happened), you can start to see tantrums as opportune moments for discipline and education.

It is very tempting to storm out of the house to escape a tantrum, but this has the opposite of the intended effect – your child ends up feeling abandoned ( I am guilty as charged of this one. I would lock him up in my bedroom and leave him to his devices – long lessons I tell you). My therapist let me know that the magnitude of the tantrum emotions can actually be scary for a child, hence the need for them to know that you are around.

Read More: Shouting at my son and 4 tips that helped me

Secondly, keep calm and know that your child is growing normally (there should be a meme for this, no?). I realized, deep in PPD that the more I shouted in response to tantrums, the wilder my son became, and so we met at the infamous intersection of emotional meltdown and anger – not a pretty sight, so much so that my mom once asked me, who between the two of us was the child seeing as I was shouting just as much :O.

My therapist advised I needed to learn to approach him in a gentle spirit (hard as it is, it does quell the raging emotional storm to some extent), and embrace him (my eyes almost popped out y’all. Embrace a tantrum-er when I was boiling inside?) While this may not work immediately, it sure does make for a better reaction than yelling.

  • That said, she did mention it was imperative not to yield to unreasonable demands by a screaming child. This is oh-so difficult especially in public spaces (I’m referring to that child who lays prostate in the mall because mom didn’t get skittles :D), but agreeing to their demands teaches him/her that a fit is the way to get things done in future, and who are we really helping in that case?
  • Once the tantrum has subsided, she advised me to take time to talk it out with him, something I almost never used to do! I’d just shut off till the next day (It has been a mighty long road, heh!) Hug and talk to him, acknowledging his frustrations, but making it clear throwing a fit is not the way to express himself.

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  • Lastly, avoid situations that trigger a tantrum. Simply put, tantrums are more likely when your child is a) tired b) sleep-deprived c) hungry. Carry a snack if you are on the go and allow your child to rest before starting your errands (when possible). In addition, know that your child is growing and starting to get a little independent. It helps to give choices from time to time. For instance, “Would you like to watch cartoon first or change your clothes (after school?)” It gives them a sense of control and gives you better feedback.

When all else fails, wine!, be easy on yourself and try it out again tomorrow.

NOTE: I do realize that for moms suffering from Postpartum Depression, tantrums may seem insurmountable. It is easy to feel defeated, suffocated even by what is considered normal child milestones. Do not feel ashamed to ask for help. Take one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time. This too shall pass. There is hope.

What are some of the ways you have dealt with tantrums before? How do you handle the whirlwind emotions that you may feel? Let’s chat in the comment box below.

Just a few reminders:

  1. If you think you suffer from PPD, or know someone who does, do not be afraid to ask for help. PPD is a mental health condition, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Please email me at ppdisland@gmail.com for details or if you need someone to talk to.
  2. I finally decided to take the plunge and do my #littlething as far as reaching out and creating PPD awareness online is concerned. If you are on Twitter, please take a minute and check out @PPDKenya as well as #PPDKenya and if it is not too much to ask, share on your networks. Many thanks.
  3. You may also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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