Trying to cope with a toddler’s tantrum sucks. Fact. No matter how much you try and play them down or empathise with why they happen, they suck.
I love my daughter more than anything else in the world, but when she goes into a meltdown, I could quite happily leave her at the side of the road and drive off. The shrill piercing of her screams gets to me like nothing else on this earth and makes me feel like such a failure as a parent. I have to fight with every fibre in my body not to lose my rag and scream just as loud back at her.
She’s only two, I tell myself in my calmest inner voice. It’s just frustration, I tell myself. She doesn’t know how to control it yet. She will one day, just not today. Won’t she?
It’s so hard not to over analyse everything your kids do (or won’t do!). I’ve become really good at it since we met little Miss. Every time she won’t eat her tea, I’m convinced she’s going to waste away. Every runny nappy and I’m convinced she has some kind of terrible illness. For the most part, after my initial panic, I can rationalise things and realise it is just normal teething toddler behaviour.
Tantrums are a whole different kettle of fish though. How can it possibly be normal to scream so much, to lash about, to go so red in the face and to be so utterly horrible? The added dimension of panic for me about tantrums was planted as a seed in my brain when we were first told about our daughter. We read the report about her and knew she was meant to be ours from the moment we started to read. What was enstilled in us from the beginning though was that there was so much uncertainty about her future.
Uncertainty about how she would develop. Uncertainty about whether she would have heredity disease that no-one knew about, or whether she’d develop conditions that her birth family may have. What if the tantrums are the first signs of something not being right? What if it is the start of attachment issues because of the disruption of moving from her primary carer into our home as such an early stage in her life?
Some days I can work myself into a complete frenzie thinking like that. And then we go out and come across another grown up trying to contain a kicking and screaming toddler who doesn’t want to go home after a trip to the park. For some people, that sight would make them cross the road to avoid the spectacle. For me though I want to go and kiss said toddler as it is a very welcome reminder that the behaviour my daughter is displaying is probably normal.
No parent can ever know how their children are going to develop, regardless of how they came to be their parent. There is uncertainty every time a new life comes into the world, but that’s what makes parenthood such an amazing rollercoaster. It would be so much better though if it didn’t have to contain so many tantrums.