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Mumhood:Temper Tantrums

By Adama Aliyu

I have a sister that was the queen of tantrums, her episodes were pure terror. Nothing worked, she could cry for a very long time and eventually just fall asleep right there on the floor after rolling around and throwing everything she could get her hands on. I’m nine years older than her so I knew her childhood really well, baby sitting was my hobby. Surprisingly, she is now a very calm person, she did a complete 360, and we are all shocked that she’s not troublesome anymore. Maybe she got it all out while she was growing up.

Temper tantrums are emotional and physical “meltdowns” common among children in the 2- to 4-year-old age range. The toddler may demonstrate a number of characteristic behaviours, including screaming, kicking, lying on the floor, and occasionally holding his breath (rarely to the point of passing out). As a child matures, these manifestations of emotional, developmental, and physical immaturity gradually extinguish themselves. Studies indicate that 23%-85% of children between 2 and 4 years of age will commonly have temper tantrums.

For me, the hardest part was learning how to block out the noise, ugh! Especially while managing more than one kid, I could deal with one kid, but when they are two or three, you’ll feel like going mad or joining the craze. As parents, we can effectively manage temper tantrums by remaining calm and objective and not rewarding the child’s behaviour. Walking away from the child during the temper tantrum teaches the child that their approach is unsuccessful. Timeout is also an effective tool parents can successfully utilize.

My best strategy for now is negotiation, for example if I know we are going out to maybe the store or a restaurant with all 3 kids, and kids can just embarrass you anyhow and make you wonder if you are even cut out for this parenting thing at all, I let them choose the store, then tell them they can only pick two –two things. So by making them feel like they made some of the decision, they become more agreeable, and they maintain their cool and behave.

Knowing when to expect some outburst helps prepare you on how to handle them before they get out of hand. So I just prepare for how to handle tantrums before it reaches that point where you can’t stop the crying until he/ she decides he’s tired of crying or just falls asleep. So when I realized that my baby was fixated on a certain plate and fork, and she had to be the one to use it, otherwise there wouldn’t be peace, I just decided to buy everything the same colour. No wahala!

For the most part, if its not hunger, sleep or sickness that triggers it and you are sure its just a fit then I just act calm and let her settle down when she’s done, sometimes I try the distraction approach, like surprising her when she’s on the verge of the outburst and she just forgets she is supposed to be angry, like making funny faces or giving her a snack or her favourite toy. lol! I swear, it works some times.

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