"It’s just a phase"
I feel my cheeks burning bright red and the sweat starting to prickle under my armpits.
I feel other people’s eyes burn into me and hear faint tuts and mutters.
I feel the frustration rise in me and my palms start to sweat a little.
I try and get her to stand up. I start off calmly, trying to keep an authoritative tone in my voice. It doesn’t work. I don’t think she can actually hear me over her own screams.
I try again. I can hear a slight begging tone in my voice and it’s no surprise when she still ignores me.
I bend down, get the best grip I can and pick her up. I shove her under one arm, like a rugby ball, whilst trying to gather the bags that I put on the floor at some point. I’m not sure when. Near the start I think, when we were still in the ‘could possibly be reasoned with’ stage. That passed a while a go.
Everything in my hands, I get a better grip on her and carry her out of the shop. She’s still screaming and now hitting and kicking has been thrown into the mix, just so she can hammer the point home that she isn’t happy.
Tears prick my eyes as a few of the punches meet with their target. For a toddler she really packs a punch but then with the force of emotion behind it, it’s not surprising really.
Out of the shop, find a quieter space, away from the stares and judgment. Put her down, crouch down and brush the hair out of her eyes. She’s calmer now and relief floods through me.
Miss P has terrible tantrums. It’s rare that a day goes by without at least one. Often they are because I’ve said no in one way or another but sometimes I have no idea why. And I’m not sure she always knows either.
I understand all the theory and have read countless articles about how to deal with them. Distraction sometimes works, avoidance too if I can and I’m not ashamed to admit that bribery is often pulled out of the bag – I can hear the sharp intakes of breath “You’re rewarding the behaviour”, yes rod and back spring to mind but sometimes I just need them to stop. Now.
When she’s like this it is so at odds with her normal good nature. The opposite of the little girl who laughs at everything, has a smile for everyone and spends half her time running over to give me a kiss and a cuddle. Who is so loving that she tries to hug her favourite characters when they are on TV, who happily gives me a bit of her biscuit and who thinks the world is an amazing place, full of fun and sunshine.
I know we both get to a point during a tantrum that common sense flies out of the window and we are left with only raw emotion to work with. I am the adult. I am meant to have control of the situation but sometimes, on a really bad day, all I have is the emotions and the feeling in my gut that this is my failing. That the tantrums are my fault. That, somehow, I have made her be this way.
“It’s a phase. It’ll pass” is what I hear a lot. And yes, I know it will pass and we’ll be on to the next phase – there’s always one isn’t there?! – but what about now? She starts playgroup in January. Will she be like that there? Will they let her go if she has tantrum after tantrum? Or will it be different for her when someone else is saying No? I have no idea. I have no answers. I think it’s one of those wait and see situations.
But in the meantime - if you’ve got this far, I seem unable to stop writing - I would very much appreciate your advice. How do you deal with your toddler’s tantrums? What do you do when they happen in public and you just can’t leave?