Embracing the Year of the Tantrum

Ayva has only been 4 for a little over a week, but I’ve already decided to call this “The Year of the Tantrum”. It’s not like I was caught off guard, though. We’ve clearly been on the road to Tantrum Town for the last couple of months. It seemed like every day I lost a little more of my sweet little 3-year-old, and gained a teeny tiny teenager, complete with the angst and the ‘tude. I honestly don’t think I’ve said, “sassy mouth”, more times in my life than I have the in the past few weeks. This child has a MOUTH on her, y’all. I wonder where she got that from?

Anyway, Ayva’s new thing lately has been tantrums. Not the falling out on the floor, acting a pure fool type tantrums (now that, we don’t do), but more of the “I’m upset so I’m crying. Oh, y’all are looking? Well, in that case, I’ll cry louder and add more heartbreak so that you can ask my mother what’s wrong, and together we can embarrass her enough to give in to what I want” type of tantrum. Just about any occasion calls for a tantrum, too. She misplaced that one sequin that she found in the middle of Target that time? I filled her water cup up too high? And, of course, it’s bedtime? Again? But, whyyyy?

As annoying as tantrums can be, especially when it’s partnered with everyone’s favorite preschool accessory, whining, it’s important to remember where they come from. I’ll admit it. My first instinct when a tantrum starts is to shut it all the way down. I had an epiphany, though. Tantrums need to happen, and I need to chill out, relax, and help my baby learn to express all of these new emotions that she’s dealing with. She’s going to be sad when she can’t go on a playdate with her friends. She’s not going to be happy if she really, really wants ice cream, and I say no. Seriously, how would you feel if someone said you couldn’t go out and drink wine with your girls? You’d want to throw a fit, too, right? Emotions like disappointment, sadness, and even boredom, are things that parents sometimes take for granted when it comes to kids. If we feel these things, why shouldn’t our children? We might not throw tantrums, but we sure do feel like it!

The other thing that was revealed to me today, is that Ayva is at the age where I need to be really honest to her about why she isn’t able do or have something. Then, I need to be patient with her as she learns to deal with not getting what she wants. When she was younger, I could appease her with “you can do that later”, or “you can go next time”. Well, now she knows when later is, and she isn’t going to forget that this time is next time. As my little girl gets older, our relationship is going to change. I do believe that adults should show children the same respect that they want to receive, and a big part of that is being as flexible and understanding with her as I would be with, say, a co-worker, or a friend.

On Ayva’s birthday last week, I took her and her friends out to lunch. One of the friends was coming to our house for a playdate afterwards for just a little bit before her mother came to pick her up. Well, we made a stop at a garden near our house for a bit, and then the little girl’s mom came early, so we never even got inside for the girls to play. Ayva burst into tears saying, “She came too early! She came too early!” She planted herself and wouldn’t move, and made her legs jello when I tried to pick her up. I finally was able to scoop her up, and she wrapped her arms around me, and sobbed into my neck as we went inside. Of course she’s going to be upset! She had prepared all of her toys to show her friend, and had arranged everything just so. She was super excited, and really proud to be able to share her things. Totally tantrum worthy, right?

I’m just trying to be a better mom, y’all. I yell. I’m impatient. I’m tough. But I love this little girl more than anything. More than myself. And I just want her to be happy and emotionally well. Taking the time to understand her as she grows is part of that. And you know what? One day, when she’s giving me real teenager attitude, and throwing tantrums because of boys, I’m sure I’ll look back fondly on her throwing a teddy bear across the room when she feels like she’s not being heard.

Where could you be more patient when it comes to your children? 

14 responses to “Embracing the Year of the Tantrum”

  1. Joyce Brewer Avatar
    Joyce Brewer

    I struggled with the same thing right before our son turned 3. For about 3 weeks he was a maniac. My husband wondered out loud, “Are we living with a teenager?” Then like that, our son passed the tough phase and was a lot easier to deal with. He still cries when he’s disappointed, but it’s nothing as dramatic as it was in Feb-March.
    Now, one area I’m working on is the “mean Mommy voice.” My friend noticed my tone when we were on the phone. I think I’m getting a lot tougher on him especially in public because I know I won’t be there 100% of the time once he’s 8 or 9 and may be on a field trip or play date without me.
    I want him to learn that some behavior is not tolerated. I think I’m also scared about raising a black boy and all the dangers in this world. So I may go a little overboard with what I CAN control – his behavior when he’s with his parents.

    1. BrandiJeter Avatar

      That’s how I was (and still am in a lot of ways) because I know that the world isn’t as lenient with a Black teenager acting out as they are with a little girl. Her teacher actually gave me the advice to lean back a bit and let her learn. I’m not going to be able to change the world’s perspective, but I can certainly give my daughter a safe space to learn, like other children, how to regulate her own behavior.

  2. Amy Avatar

    My oh so adorable and newly three years old niece is going through a rough time now, too. Her tantrum personality even has a name. It’s a good thing she’s cute.
    And Ayva’s just about the cutest thing ever. So, you know, at least there’s that.

    1. BrandiJeter Avatar

      You know what? That cute thing actually still works, so, yes…thank God for that!

  3. MommyTesters Avatar

    Can I just say that I’m right there with you! Why doesn’t anyone tell you that 4 is harder than 2 when it comes to temper tantrums? You summed it up perfectly, it’s not the lay on floor fit it’s the now I know how to work an audience and go for the drama stage. I too have noticed that the “cut it out” approach doesn’t solve anything and though Craig thinks I’m being an enabler I prefer the “let’s talk about why we’re getting to this point” method. I still need more patience though and have a hard time finding it because she goes from 0-60 in about 3 seconds with the tantrums right now and sometimes I’m just not prepared…

    1. BrandiJeter Avatar

      Goodness, I’m really amazed at how fast the tantrums come and go. Usually I’m still trying to get myself together after she has one, and she’s moved on to crayons and yogurt. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who doesn’t feel prepared!

  4. Arnebya Avatar

    With my 12- and 9-year-old girls, I need to be (and am trying to be) more patient and understanding regarding how my saying no affects them. In all honesty, we aren’t able to do much outside of our budget, so when the girls ask for things that I deem frivolous, I try not to let them know that what they’re asking for is inconsequential in the grand scheme (because I remember being 14 and NEEDING those Aigner riding boots.) I try to talk to them regularly about finances and work toward getting them the extra things they ask for (because right now, outside of food, soap, toothpaste, and underwear, we can’t splurge on much.) With my 3-year-old son, though, oh boy. He’s not a tantrum thrower, but he is a whiner and a cryer. I don’t consider them tantrums, I guess, because he just sits and cries. No screaming, kicking, yelling, throwing. Just tears. And it’s heartbreaking. Sometimes. Other times all I can say is cry on, bruh, because you are just NOT going to climb and stand/jump off of the dining room table. I wait until he’s done, trying hard not to, at times, shout while he’s crying, then talk about why he couldn’t do something, and let’s find something else to do, safely, together, that doesn’t require a hospital trip. Ain’t nobody going to the ER on a Sunday afternoon.

    1. BrandiJeter Avatar

      I’m with you! There are some times when no is just no and there’s nothing that we can do about it. She’s starting to learn that, although, of course, she’ll test the waters. Like you, if there is a potential for injury, you can cry all you want…it’s not happening. The same goes for hitting and kicking. While some families are okay with kids doing that…we aren’t.

  5. Beth Zimmerman Avatar

    I wish I had been so wise as a young mama! You’re doing great!

    1. BrandiJeter Avatar

      Thank you, Beth! I’m a work in progress!

  6. Janeane Davis Avatar
    Janeane Davis

    It is important to work with the tantrums now and find productive ways of dealing with them as you are. You train people in how to treat you. This means how you react and how you treat tantrums now will determine how they act in the future. I let my kids have their tantrums and talk with them about it. The bottom line is still and always going to be what I want because I am the mama, but it is nice to give them an opportunity to be upset when appropriate and then learn the proper way to express frustration.

    1. BrandiJeter Avatar

      That’s right, Janeane! They have to learn how to express their frustration. As they learn, though, it’s our role to be patient. I think that’s where I was struggling, but I’m working on it.

  7. Chasing Joy (Arlett) Avatar
    Chasing Joy (Arlett)

    It’s good for adults to understand that kids experience the same emotions as us. Only the emotions may be new to them and they don’t yet have coping skills.

  8. Emma Craig Avatar
    Emma Craig

    Is this a 4-year-old thing? We’re dealing with the same thing on my end. Your post put into words all that I was thinking.

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