Argh! The terrible twos have come late to the party, and bit us on the bum! Or maybe it’s early threenager: Lily will be 3 in May. Up until now, excluding about 3 months some time between the age of 18 months and 2 when she decided to throw tantrum after tantrum about the smallest of things, she has always been a pretty relaxed little thing. I think that tricky blip was due to her suddenly realising that she was this independent person. She wanted to do her own thing, and did not want to be told no. Luckily for us that stage went pretty quickly and wasn’t too bad.
Recently however Lily has got a lot more emotional about everything. She doesn’t throw a big kicking and screaming tantrum most of the time, but what she does do is burst in to tears a lot. She’s never been a girl who cries very often, but wow is she making up for it at the moment.
For example, the other day we had been mooching about the house most of the morning and Lily was doing some colouring. I finally decided it was time for us to drag ourselves out, so said “Right, shall we go and get dressed?” This was immediately met with a cry of “NO!!!!” As she put her head in her hands and started crying, saying she wanted to keep colouring.
This is so unlike her and I really don’t know what’s going on! Another thing that’s been happening lately is she has been getting incredibly offended when people laugh at her. Not laughing at her in a horrible way, but when she does something cute and people laugh, she hates it. Even if it’s me laughing! She wants to be taken very seriously!
It’s this sort of thing a lot lately, and it’s hard to know how to deal with it. I don’t like the “naughty step” really, especially at this age I just don’t think it works. Especially as often it’s not that she’s being “naughty” she’s just upset. I do sit Lily down and explain to her, and try and talk it out. But often she is so emotional I need to leave her be for a few minutes before I can get through to her. I encourage her to “use her words” and explain what’s wrong as she has a tendency to just cry in an angry/frustrated way.
I took to the internet to try and see what other people had done at this stage. Here’s a few things I picked up from my search. I’ll be trying them out so will keep you posted on how they work:
1. Make sure they’re not hurting themselves- if they’re kicking and screaming make sure they aren’t in danger of whacking themselves on something, or hitting their head. If necessary hold them so they can’t.
2. Once they’ve calmed down sit them down and talk to them about it in a calming tone. If they pick up on your frustration or anger it’s likely to make things worse. There’s no point talking to them when they are in the midst of a meltdown as they won’t be listening, so wait for them to calm down a bit first.
3. Don’t let the tantrum change your decision. If they want chocolates for breakfast and you’ve said no, don’t reward the tantrum by giving in. Something that can be hard not to do for an easy life!!
4. When they start a tantrum acknowledge their frustration by saying something like “I understand you’re upset because you want the chocolate now, but you need to have some cereal first.” Once you’ve acknowledged their feelings don’t keep acknowledging it by repeating yourself whilst they’re in a meltdown. Leave them to it for a moment and wait for them to calm down, then ask them if they want a cuddle and talk to them.
5. Try not to get angry too. Something I think we are all guilty of doing sometimes. All I find this does is causes two of us to go in to a meltdown rather than one!
6. Try to react the same to a meltdown both at home and out and about. I find it hard when we’re out or at friend’s/relatives and Lily has a tantrum as you feel all eyes on you, and it can be tempting to just give in or react differently because you want the tantrum to stop as soon as possible. This is one I will struggle with I think especially in something like a supermarket tantrum when you just want it to stop quickly!
I’ve started trying these methods with Lily recently, and so far it seems to be quite effective. It doesn’t always work, and I don’t always stick to it because I am no Mary Poppins. But we’ll see how it goes. I guess it’s just a stage they all go through and we have to ride it out. But I find when I do stick to the points above the tantrums in general seem to calm down fairly quickly.
I think the important thing to remember is that they aren’t throwing a wobbly because it’s fun, they genuinely feel awful and don’t know what to do with themselves. They release this frustration in the only way they know how at this age. They feel just as rubbish about it as you do, if not more. I try to keep this in mind when Lily is throwing a strop as then I react more with sympathy than frustration myself.
Have you got any tips for this tricky stage? I would love to hear them in the comments, any help appreciated!