There are very few parents that can side-step the difficult experience that is a kid's tantrum, especially when their kids are toddlers. Dealing with a tiny human throwing a fit is an inevitable part of parenthood (if you don't get them with your toddlers, just wait until they're teens. Trust me on that one.). There are a thousand ways to potentially handle tantrums, some written about in books and some secretly shared amongst parents, but there are definitely things every new mom needs to know about tantrums if she wants to survive them. Full disclosure, though, and for the sake of establishing healthy expectations; you can attempt to prepare yourself as best as possible. Those tantrums are still going to suck.
I am, in many ways, a logic-driven person. When my daughter started to become more emotional and prone to meltdowns a few months after turning two, I tried to logic our way out of them. My partner would often catch me mid-attempt, talking to my daughter and explaining why the red cup was exactly the same in every single way as the blue cup, except for the color. He would watch me in disbelief, and then try to make me understand that what I was doing would basically never work. Did I understand and even agree with what he was saying? Sure, but I just couldn't rewire my brain away from that tendency.
Eventually, after basically re-training my mind, I embraced my partner's philosophy. I stopped trying so hard and started to just do what I needed to do to get through those meltdowns with my sanity intact. I began to understand that attempting to minimize or stop each and every tantrum wasn't accomplishing anything, except providing me with more stress than any human should be forced to endure. When it comes to surviving the inevitable tantrum, there are just things you need to know; things that really are just learned with time and experience; things that I am more than happy to share now, because trust me when I say that if you can minimize that learning curve, more power to you.
It's OK To Walk Away
Sometimes, the only way you can manage to not react or engage is by taking yourself out of the equation entirely. More often than not your toddler is specifically trying to get a reaction out of you, so removing yourself can allow them blow off steam in their own time, without you sticking around to add more fuel to the fire. For the record, that was a lot of clichés, and I'm fully aware of that, but tantrums are clichés in and of themselves, so there's that.
Just Letting The Tantrum Happen Isn't A Bad Thing
Listen, you're pretty much never going to successfully talk some sense into a toddler who is in the midst of a tantrum. If walking away isn't necessary for your sanity (or it isn't an option, like if you're at a store), then you may as well just wait it out. You don't need to say a word, and you may actually help your kid. Being present for a tantrum, without actually yelling, shows that you love them.
Invest In A Pair Of Ear Plugs
This one move saved me from becoming a monster in front of my daughter when she was throwing her epic tantrums. I was suffering from hyperacusis (lowered tolerance to everyday sounds) and migraines as the result of a concussion, and I simply couldn't deal with the sounds my daughter made when she lost it. Naturally, I couldn't continue to freak out on her, so my husband came up with the brilliant idea of popping in ear plugs and letting her take as long as she needed. Worked like a charm.
You Can Let Your Kid Decide When They're Done, Rather Than Forcing Them To Get It Together
Let me say it again: there is no reasoning with a toddler in the midst of a tantrum. Trust me, I've tried. This is another form of disengaging and walking away that is healthy, in my opinion. I'm not taking on the tantrum, but I'm not trying to shut it down, either. My daughter got in the habit of coming out from wherever she was, after she had finished, and telling me she was done, and then we'd cuddle and it would all be OK.
Music Is Your Friend
I've only ever used this as a crutch in the car, when I have to keep driving and I'm dangerously close to losing my ever-loving mind. I think it only shocked my daughter into silence once. That hasn't stopped me from doing it again and again, when it becomes necessary to drown out the screams. Someone, give me a medal. Mommy of the year over here!
A Tantrum Isn't Indicative Of Your Parenting Abilities
Every kid throws a tantrum. It's just, like science. In fact, it's a sign of development and a gap between the feelings your kid is experiencing, and their ability to express said feelings. I mean, I've seen some grown-ass adults throw tantrums, so it's pretty understandable that a two year old would end up throwing a fit every now and then. It's OK; It's not you; You're not doing anything wrong; Your kid i just being a kid.
Your Kid Might Be Trying To Tell You Something
There are so many reasons why your kid might be throwing a tantrum, that span far beyond them trying to drive you insane. Will it feel that way? Oh, hell yes it will. However, most toddler tantrums are fueled by exhaustion or hunger or fear or confusion. Your kid might actually be trying to tell you something, so it never hurts to assess the situation and try to figure out what they're trying to say, before retreating into the abyss and letting them just tire themselves out.
You're Doing A Great Job And Your Kid Loves You
Toddler tantrums have this insane ability to make you doubt every decision you've ever made, or even if you have what it takes to be a good parent. You're doing great and you definitely have what it takes and your kid loves you. Trust me. They don't hate you and their kicks and screams aren't scarring them. They won't end up spending thousands of dollars in therapy because of that one tantrum they threw that one time. I promise.
You Need To Take Care Of Yourself, Too
If you're going to survive toddler tantrums, you need to take care of yourself. Hell, if you're going to survive parenthood, you need to take care of yourself. There are so many things you can do to figure out what a tantrum means or weather a tantrum storm, but at the end of the day you also need to focus on you. If you feel like you're at your wits end, let someone else take the reigns while you go and tend to yourself, solo.