Welcome to Tantrum City

Our youngest child, Elizabeth, has become something of a threenager. She’s throwing a lot of tantrums.

tantrum, behaviour, preschool, preschooler, toddler, child, children

Is this a familiar experience to you? Pic credit below.

That’s quite a sweeping statement, so I should clarify. I hear some horror stories from friends about their kids’ behavior. By comparison I think we are very lucky and Izzy, as we call her, is an easy, well-behaved child the majority of the time.

It doesn’t, however, always feel that way. At half past seven in the morning, when I’m trying to get both kids ready for the day ahead, I do not need to be dealing with a tantrum because Izzy doesn’t want grapes for breakfast. I could also do without an ear-splitting screaming match at bed time because she wants to watch Paw Patrol instead (as for my thoughts on that infernal cartoon, well that’s another blog post entirely).

Needless to say, Izzy reserves this behavior exclusively for Mrs Adams and I. She doesn’t tantrum at pre-school or when I do the school runs or in public. In this respect we have been very lucky, we have never been forced to scoop a screaming child up off the floor of a supermarket. When I do see such things happen, I always feel for the parents as that can’t be an easy situation to deal with.

I’ve come to the conclusion there are three reasons for the increase in tantrums;

1) She is simply at an age when having a tantrum seems like a good idea. She’s trying to be independent and doesn’t like the fact her day is planned out by daddy and mummy and so she has tantrums to assert her independence.

2) She’s in the midst of a developmental spurt and is tiring quite easily. I recall Helen, our other daughter, having a similar phase at a similar age, although she was less vocal. Izzy refuses to nap in the afternoons, but will often fall asleep on the school run. I don’t think this is helping. When Helen went through this stage, she hadn’t had an afternoon nap in ages. Unlike her younger sister, however, she was willing to accept she was tired and would have a nap when it all got a bit too much.

3) Izzy needs more one-on-one time from mum and dad.

That final point is a bit painful to accept, but I think it is true. After a somewhat manic end to 2015, we started 2016 as a family expecting a quieter time of it.

This was a bit daft as we knew we were getting some major building work done on the house. This kept us busy for a couple of months. There were also one or two other issues that had an impact on family life. Added to this, Helen is getting increasing amounts of homework and I have to give her one-on-one time in the evenings after school to ensure it is completed.

Both kids get a fair amount of time with mum and dad, but I have to concede, over recent months little Izzy hasn’t had as much one-on-one time as perhaps she should.

To rectify this, I’ve been re-arranging schedules and making a greater effort to spend more time with her. I always offer to read to her or do drawing or writing, activities she loves to do at pre-school.

It goes without saying that she generally refuses to do these activities at home! Instead we end up playing Jenga (the game of the moment), playing in the garden or just cuddling on the sofa watching TV. I don’t like sitting back and watching TV with her, I always feel like I should be doing something constructive. Thing is, she won’t nap and she is getting tired. Izzy needs some quiet time in the afternoons and it’s one way to get her to rest.

I know it’s a phase and I know it will pass. It’s simply that early mornings and bed times would be a little smoother without the tantrums!

What is your experience of dealing with tantrums? Do you think sleep, lack of one-on-one time and developmental spurts affect a child’s behavior? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.


Pic credit; Mindaugus Danys, reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.

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7 Comments

  1. May 24, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    I guess this really is totally normal at this age John but I agree that when you’re a second (or subsequent child) it must be even harder to get the attention you crave at times. You know I’ve got a little threenager on my hands right now – he is generally OK but he does go through phases of very wilful behaviour and he is always so tired when we’re doing our 40 minute drive home after picking his brother up from school that I have to try all sorts of tactics to keep him awake (so he will go to sleep at bedtime!) and then no wonder we have trouble with his behaviour in the latter stages of the day! I think you must be right about the developmental stuff they go through during this year too – really pushing boundaries and trying to assert their authority.

  2. Zoe
    May 25, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    I find time pressures make it so much harder to deal with them, picking the battles too

    Throw in a new baby in the mix too 😉

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 26, 2016 / 4:33 am

      Oh wow, yes, throwing in a new baby must make it more difficult. I’ll be totally honest, I have also adopted a policy of carefully picking my battles. Of course, she does too. You know, like 8.15am in the morning when trying to get out the door for the school run! Good luck with the newborn and your tantrums!

  3. May 28, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    I love the honestly and reflectivity in the post when you comment that she may need more of your time. My 5 year old is going through a bit of a strop faze, the its not fair and why cant we do what I want faze, I see the logic in his thoughts, he is also great at nursery so I have been trying to focus more on positive reinforcement and not focus on the bad..its hard when they are screaming at you! #brilliantblogposts

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 29, 2016 / 6:15 am

      Alas, I can’t avoid the truth. I think she does need more one on one time and over the last couple of weeks, she’s been getting it. You have to be flexible as a parent, constantly meeting the ever changing needs and priorities of your kids.

  4. July 5, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    Like you, we were very fortunate in that our little girl (now 6), had few tantrums really (home and out). So much, that tantrums really came as a shock, I can tell you! Like the time she refused to get into the supermarket trolley seat (but was too tired and crabby to walk alongside) and even the emergency biscuit bribe didn’t work. Oh how I wished the ground would swallow me up that day – a day I’ll not forget in a hurry! #brillblogposts

    • John Adams
      Author
      July 8, 2016 / 11:17 am

      Oh we all experience it. Thankfully Izzy’s major tantrums are reserved for home!