For years I have been hearing about the terrible twos. And, yes, with little ones finding their independence the twos can be and were most challenging. Now though that I am experiencing the threes, I am wondering why the twos got so much hype. Why isn’t anyone talking about the threes?
Today must have set some sort of record. The day started off with what was supposed to be a lovely short trip to the store which quickly reminded me why I prefer to shop solo. Bobby wanted to hold the box of kosher salt, then he wanted to throw it on the floor, then he wanted to grab something else, then he screamed for no reason. All within a ten minute period. I won’t go into what happened after the grocery store, but let’s just say more of the same thing.
Wanting some guidance, I did a little research to help me understand what this behavior is all about. Some articles on websites like BabyCenter explain that tantrums are about the child gaining independence and that children will tantrum as a result of being unable to express how they feel. These articles were totally unhelpful to the parent of the child who knows how he feels but just seems determined to pitch a fit. After digging some more, I came across an article on WebMD that was informative. Children between the age of 3 and 4 have a hard time knowing the consequences of bad behavior. Allegedly after awhile a tantruming 3 year old will learn that the behavior results in a some sort of consequence and as a result they’ll tantrum less.
What should the consequence be? Some experts suggest time outs, others just a lack of attention. Apparently ignoring the tantrum can work well. And for me, it has worked. But what do you do when they’re tantruming in public. One expert advocated for the parents to remain calm and detached. After reading that, I started to wonder if they had kids. It’s so hard to stay calm when your child is sprawled out on the ground somewhere with a group of onlookers.
Lucky for me, I got to try to stay calm. On the way to the park, Bobby had a meltdown. At first it was about a green dinosaur – he wanted it, then he didn’t want it, then he wanted something else, and went back to wanting the dinosaur. Usually, I try to talk him down from his tantrum. This time it was clear that my usual approach wasn’t going to work. So, I tried something new. I ignored him. I tried to keep my cool and counted to ten. By the time I got to ten, he simmered down and was looking out the window. So, maybe there is something to ignoring the tantrum.