Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Cute Side of the Terrible Twos

It's true, I did not think that I would have power struggles over clothing and bed time stories and breakfast with my one and a half year old.  She can be sweet one moment, pretending to cry the next, and clingy to the point of not allowing me to put her down the entire time that we are home.  She has even started the classic maneuver of putting on the most wonderful smile as soon as we leave the house, so that everyone can say, "Oh, what an angelic child..."

There is always the irresistable side of this phenomenon, as I watch her express herself and her opinions, and behave the adventurous toddler.  I told Raphaela to prepare to leave for our swim lesson.  In response, she took a bunch of her toys and stuffed them down her shirt, so she looked pregnant;  as she crawled around, you could hear the plastic fruits and animals clinking against each other, but the bulge didn't seem to bother her at all.  She then took her jacket and went to the door, and let me know with a smile and a coy tilt of the head that she was ready to go, that she had all the essentials. 

What a smile, it has bewitched me from the moment she was born.

We arrived at the pool  and all of Raphaela's recent water hesitations seemed to have disappeared.  She willingly jumped into the water and swam, crawled through tunnels and swung on the rope.  Every time she performed a daring feat (for a toddler), I rewarded her with a hug and a kiss.  I treasure these moments, as much as I treasure the tantrums, because ultimately, Raphaela is following the plan, and I get to watch it and foster her growth every day.


koshergourmetmart said...

Her tantrums may be as a result of her feeling you are not giving her your full attention when you are home together as well as an inability to express in language what she desires. In terms of her exhibiting the "classic maneuver of putting on a smile so that everyone can say" she is somewhat young to be manipulative in the manner you are ascribing to her. She may be smiling - and acting genuinely happy when you leave the house b/c she knows she is getting your full attention and loves to be going outside. has this info about tantrums

" My 17-month-old's tantrums have become absolutely intolerable. He cries hysterically until, within a couple minutes, he throws up. The only way to calm him down is to distract him or to give him whatever it is he wants. I know it's not good for me to cater to his every whim, but I get so frustrated, I don't know what else to do. How can I temper my son's excessive tantrums?

koshergourmetmart said...

dr sears answer
A. Your son is going through a typical stage of toddler development, albeit more intensely than many other children. Highly sensitive and deep-feeling children seem most inclined to throw extreme tantrums. The child's desire to communicate a feeling or to perform a particular skill forges ahead of his ability to do so. This leads to frustrations that are released through bad behavior. Since your son's motor skills are developing more quickly than his language skills, he's showing you what he feels, instead of telling you. Although his intense emotions are exhausting to you now, they can, if channeled properly, work to his social advantage later in life. In the meantime, here's how to better parent your toddler through this energy-draining stage.

Identify the triggers. Is he tired, bored, hungry, or frustrated? Keeping a tantrum journal will clue you in to what sets him off. For example, if tantrums occur when he's overwhelmed by lots of other children, stay alert to this trigger and intervene before your little volcano erupts. One of my children would crumble whenever he tried to retrieve a toy stuck under the couch or to stack a tower of blocks that kept toppling. When we saw him engaging in either activity, we would simply sit down and help -- always being careful to show him how to do it, rather than to do it for him. You want to assume the role of facilitator for your child, teaching him to perform feats more easily or redirecting him to less frustrating activities. It also helps to know your child's pre-tantrum signals (body language, facial expressions). Quickly step in when you see them crop up.

koshergourmetmart said...

dr sears contd

Identify the purpose of the tantrums. Tantrums come in two forms: frustration tantrums and manipulative tantrums. Frustration tantrums require your empathy and support. These emotional outbursts an opportunity to get closer to your child and to teach him to value you as a helpful, comforting resource. If he gets stuck trying to climb higher than he's able, for example, offer him a helping hand. Your support is especially valuable if he's going through the "I do it myself" stage.

Manipulative tantrums ("I'll throw a fit until I get my way!") need to be parented more creatively. If your son is throwing an obviously manipulative tantrum, don't indulge him. Simply be on standby a few feet away, making it clear that you're there to help him when he calms down and asks for what he needs in a more appropriate manner. Your child will gradually get the message that undesirable behavior gets him nowhere. Other times, you'll just have to offer a substitute ("You can't play with the knife, but you can play with a spoon") and explain the reason.

Teach him alternative ways of expressing his feelings. Part of childhood development is learning what language gets one's needs met and what doesn't. When your son is yelling and screaming, calmly put your hand on his shoulders, look him in the eye, and say, "Use your nice voice, and tell Mommy what you need."

Know your anger tolerance. If you lose patience easily when your child throws a tantrum, know when to walk away. Count to ten (or more!) so that you can gather your thoughts and react calmly. Remember, your son is simply acting his age. You aren't responsible for his tantrum, nor for stopping it. When a toddler loses control, he should at least be able to count on the adults to stay in control.

Know when to intervene. Some children, like your son, get themselves so worked up during a tantrum that they vomit. Others may deliberately hold their breath and, on occasion, even pass out. In these cases, "holding therapy" works best. Hold your child in a relaxed and comforting way (even if he squirms) and reassure him with the most soothing voice you can muster. The message you're trying to convey is that he's lost control and you're there to help him regain it. Later in life, when your son is past the tantrum stage, his memories of calm during the stormy behavior will prove valuable.

Temper tantrums usually end between 18 months and 2 years of age, when a child develops the language skills necessary to express his feelings with words rather than actions. So when you're at your wit's end, remember: This too shall pass

koshergourmetmart said...

here is some other info:
Most toddlers throw temper tantrums. It's a typical stage of child development. To understand why your toddler throws a fit, put yourself in his place. A toddler has an intense desire to do things, but his mental and motor skills have developed more quickly than his ability to communicate. Because he doesn't yet have the verbal skills to express his frustration, he does so by throwing tantrums.

You are neither responsible for his tantrums nor for stopping them. The "goodness" of your baby is not a reflection on your parenting ability. Tantrums are common when a baby starts to strive for independence.

Staying in the carseat is a biggie. It is non- negotiable and all the theatrics in the world will not free the safety-contained protester. But whether she should wear a red shirt rather than a blue one is a smallie. A clothing mismatch isn't worth a fight.
Occasionally, a very strong-willed child will lose control of himself during a tantrum. If often helps to simply hold him firmly, but lovingly, and say, "You're angry, and you have lost control. I'm holding you because I love you." You may find that after a minute or more of struggle, he melts in your arms as if to thank you for rescuing him from himself.

In general, don't ignore a frustration tantrum. Turning away from her behavioral problems deprives her of a valuable support resource, while you lose the chance to improve your rapport with your tantrumer. Once your toddler develops the language skills to express her needs in words, you'll be able to close the book on the tantrum stage. This usually happens between two and two- and-a-half-years-of-age, depending on your child's language development.

Even after you do your best to create an attitude within your child and structure the environment in your home to prevent tantrums, they still occur. Here's what to do when the little volcano blows, at home, in public, or at Grandma's house:

Don't take it personally. Normal tantrums are a result of your child's development and temperament, not your parenting. Tantrums are due to frustration (your toddler is trying a complicated engineering feat, and howls when it goes wrong), so don't ignore this need for help. Take this tantrum as an opportunity to connect: By helping your child out of a tight spot, you build authority and trust. Offer a helping hand, a comforting "It's okay," and direct his efforts toward a more manageable part of the task (for example, you slip the sock halfway onto the foot, and then he can pull it on all the way).
Verbalize. Children just need to blow off steam. You can help your child by verbalizing for him what he can't say himself: "You are mad that Mommy won't let you have candy."
Holding therapy. Other times, when they have lost control, they want someone bigger and wiser to take hold of them lovingly and securely take charge. Try: "You're angry and I'm going to hold you until you get control of yourself because I love you." Soon the tantrum will fizzle and you will feel your flailing child melt into your arms as if thanking you for rescuing him from himself.