We’ve been having good days around here for the most part but E seems to be going through a phase of explosive tantrums.
Life will be just going along and everything is fine and then the smallest thing will set her off and BOOM it’s epic.
I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to how to cope.
This is not behaviour that we accept in our house and so this kind of epic tantrum results in her being removed from the situation (usually to her room, sometimes to ours).
But let me tell you, it’s hard. I sometimes think parenting is the definition of insanity – you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Across the board parenting experts will say that consistent parenting is important. And we try. Sometimes however I want to smack those parenting experts with their own book and ask them if they have ever actually been in the situation with their own child.
It’s funny though how sometimes a few days of consistency in the face of a behavioural issue will resolve the issue never to be seen again, and sometimes it takes time. A lot of time.
Something we’ve learned here recently and have really been working on is that our own response will either fan the flames, or douse them. If we respond equally as explosively then the situation will escalate. If we can react calmly without showing our own frustration at the event then the situation diffuses pretty quickly.
There are a few things that I have found encouraging lately. One, is that I’ve been hearing from friends that they’re going through the same things with their 4 year olds – it’s so nice to know that we’re not alone!
Another is that on a podcast I listen to the couple talks openly about their own 4 year old and the struggles they have with her from time to time. They frequently mention the explosive tantrums. What I always find as a good reminder is that they talk about her like she’s a baby – like she’s little.
My kids are little. L at 15 months needs very little discipline as of yet E at 4 needs more firm guidance but she is still little. I forget this. I remember her as a wee baby and she is so much bigger now than she was then. I’ve seen the progression from babe in arms to independent child and I often think of her as so big and mature. When you spend your days with little people it’s easy to forget that they are little because it becomes the norm!
My point is that being reminded that they are little, young, immature, helps me to remember that I can’t have big behavioural expectations. They feel emotions in big ways, but they have no way of regulating them. It’s our job to teach them.
E especially is little miss drama. She feels everything to the MAX – love, excitement, happiness, fear, anger, and everything in between. 90% of the time she’s happy, sweet and tons of fun. She is an awesome, loving, kind, big hearted kid. She is an excellent big sister, because while she’s not overly motherly, she LOVES her sister. Deeply. She plays with her, is generally patient, and at least tries (but doesn’t often succeed) to be gentle.
This also means that frustration, anger, and disappointment come out in big ways. Always at the most inconvenient and embarrassing moments (because why not). It is my job as her parent to lovingly and consistently teach her how to manage her emotions. How to show them appropriately.
It’s so easy to tell her to calm down, stop crying, or get over it. But that’s not really the point. The point is to teach her how to recognize the emotion and respond appropriately. After all you and I feel all these things too, it’s a normal part of being human!
I still haven’t come up with the amazing perfect parenting strategy for managing these behaviours, we try to be consistent but we’re also always trying new things. So if any of you have a great tip for diffusing a major tantrum please share I am open to suggestions.