Is there anything more exhausting than the shrieks and cries of tantrums all. day. long? My husband has a very physically demanding job, but I’m pretty sure there are days he prefers the grueling labor of his day to the mental taxation of mine. And it can be a fight to maintain my joy (and sanity) by the end of those days.
Maybe you’ve been blessed with extremely mild-mannered and perpetually good-natured children (I promise not to shoot you any dirty looks *crossed fingers*). Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. Tantrums? Crankiness? Whining? My children don’t do that!
But for the rest of us *ahem*, those are some loooooong, hard days.
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Aidan, my nearly-four-year-old, is coming out of the tantrum-throwing stage. (Thank God!) Everyone warned us that three was the worst, and we definitely found that to be true. But we see the light at the end of the tunnel! He’s not perfect (oh good heavens, no), and we still see a tantrum from time to time. But they’re not nearly as frequent or severe as they once were. Oh sweet, sweet relief.
Just in time for the little one to enter that phase.
Andrew is 19 months old, and I think he is entering the two’s early. With a vengeance. We thought Aidan was strong-willed, but I don’t think we’d seen anything yet. Oh my, can that little boy throw a fit. Two strong-willed children … I guess God thought we were up to the challenge. Some days I’m not convinced.
The crying and the fits have become even more pronounced in the last week or so (or maybe my patience is just wearing thin), and I have struggled to stay sane. But I’m hanging on, thanks to the ten strategies I’m about to share with you.
These are ten ways to survive tantrums — especially during those seasons where they never seem to end. They will not only keep you from losing your mind, but they’ll even help you face them with joy.
10 WAYS TO SURVIVE TANTRUMS
Talk yourself down
This is the big “secret” to how I mentally deal with all the crying. Levon often tells me, “You’re just naturally better at handling it,” and I insist that I’m not. I’m really, really not. As a Highly Sensitive Person, crying wears on my nerves almost immediately.
But I’ve realized that I really don’t have a choice but to handle it. It’s as simple as that. The alternative is to go crazy, and that’s not really a viable option for me.
So I talk myself down. I stay in control of my emotions. I don’t let myself go down that crazy spiral. I choose to stay calm. It sounds a little woo-woo, and I don’t know how else to explain it except to say I fight the anxiety and choose peace.
You don’t have to be a naturally patient person to practice patience. Let me assure you, I am not. No matter what your natural disposition is, you can choose your reactions. You just have to dig down deep. It’s there.
Watch your words
This one is closely related to #1. When we feel the most at our wits’ end, that is when we need to watch our words the most.
Venting and spewing and saying things like, “I’m about to lose my mind!” or “You guys are driving me CRAZY!” will not make us feel any better or make the situation any easier. (Not that I would know …) Instead, this is the best time to speak positively to ourselves and our kids.
Related Post: The Secret to Joyful Motherhood
Change your mindset
Another key for me is changing the way I look at their tantrums. Rather than viewing them as a plot to make me lose my mind, I remind myself that they’re really just signs of pain or struggle. Babies, toddlers, and kids don’t just cry for no reason — there’s something going on behind their cries.
Many times a tantrum is either a misguided cry for attention or the result of big emotions that they are struggling to articulate or process.
Remembering that doesn’t necessarily make them easier to listen to, but it does make me more patient as I work toward a resolution.
One of those resolutions is sometimes as simple as a hug. I’ve been amazed at the number of times getting down on the floor and embracing my children has turned around a tantrum.
Of course, I don’t want to teach them that throwing fits is the way to get Mommy’s love or attention, so I also try to give plenty of positive attention before we reach that point.
But holding them and extending love during this trying time often soothes them and me, and ends up bolstering our relationship.
Another tactic is to divert their attention away from the source of their fit. I will do this sometimes by smiling and laughing, dancing and singing, or engaging them in play. Even if it doesn’t stop their tantrum (because sometimes it doesn’t), it usually improves my mood, at least!
Give them space
Of course, sometimes these tactics only make it worse. I’ve faced tantrums from both my kids when trying to calm them down or embrace them just made them more upset.
In those cases, the best thing to do is to walk away and give them space to work through those emotions on their own.
I usually put them in their rooms and wait until they have settled down. Aidan, especially, seems to benefit from this time to “get it all out,” and he usually rejoins us quickly with a surprisingly improved mood.
Change the scenery
You might also try changing the scenery a bit. It is amazing what a little fresh air and time outdoors will do for everyone’s mood. It’s magic, really. And if the weather is lousy, try going to the library or another fun venue. Simply getting out of the house is often enough to turn even the crankiest mood around.
Take a break
When you’re really at your wits’ end, you might just need to take a break. Ask your spouse to keep the kids while you get out of the house for a while. Or call on grandparents or friends. Or hire a babysitter.
Whoever and whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about asking for help. We ALL reach that breaking point sometimes, and a little break is sometimes just what we need to resume our duties with a fresh dose of energy, endurance, and joy.
Remind yourself it’s temporary
When I was in the thick of Aidan’s temper tantrum phase, I started to feel like it would never end. I was so drained, and mostly because there was no end in sight. But now that we’re starting to come out of it, I see that it doesn’t last forever. And that gives me hope as we enter round 2 with Andrew.
Now when I’m facing day after day after day of meltdowns and fits, I can remind myself, “This doesn’t last forever. It will get better.” Some days that’s all it takes to bring me back from the edge of insanity and keep me on the course of consistent, loving correction.
I included this one last, though it really should be first. I couldn’t make a list like this without including my #1 source of strength — prayer.
When I am in the middle of really tough mothering moments, I call on strength and wisdom from the Lord, and He is faithful to answer.
It’s not always an immediate, recognizable answer to the issue, but it does fill me with the peace and calm I need. I would not have the strength for these days without His help and guidance.
Related Post: 20 Rejuvenating Scriptures for Weary Moms
Oh Momma, these early years can be long and hard. Especially if you have strong-willed or quick-tempered children who are prone to tantrums. I know exactly how you feel! I’ve traveled that road with one already, and we’re embarking on a second journey right now. It’s exhausting, and some days it can truly feel like you’re going to lose your mind.
But they don’t have to steal the joy from your motherhood! Yes, the tantrums are hard, but I have found that by using these ten practices, I have been able to face them with more patience, love, and joy than I ever thought possible. And I hope they do the same for you.
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