Childrearing

What Your Toddler’s Tantrum Says About You

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Toddler tantrums come in a rainbow of expression and sound effects. A pre-bedtime wail is not to be confused with a mid-afternoon screech fest. Nor does a fit about lunchtime options earn the same raging discontent as being denied a show before bed. But what do these range of octaves and tussling arms say about the grownups in the house?

1. The ear-piercing shriek with flapping hands

toddler tantrum

This is the duck and cover before the real bomb. The one that peels the paint off your walls and occasionally has the neighbors knocking on the door to make sure everyone is OK. Depending on what type of parent you are (and who is present), this is either the moment where you give in to that toy, or extra cookie, or TV show or go talk yourself down in a room with the door shut. A sip of wine will probably follow once the kid is in bed. Or like seven.

(photo: Stephen Stills)

2. The full on drop and flailing legs

toddler tantrum 2

You’ve already done the counting to 10, the insistent “NO,” the ignoring, the resisting, and WW III has nevertheless arrived. You hear from other parents that this is a “testing phase,” but the only thing this full on screech-a-thon has been testing is your eardrums. It’s because of this tendency that you’re too mortified to ever go to a restaurant or even swing by the department store with your kid in tow. Any errand that exceeds a possible five minutes has you nervously eyeing your kid’s eyelashes waiting for the twitch that will soon clear the room.

(photo:  jac_aleenie)

3. The muffled cries into the floor

toddler tantrum 3

Your mommy and daddy friends say you’re lucky. Lucky that your little one expresses discontent and rage by simply plopping onto the floor and blubbering into whatever surface is there. Sometimes when you pick him or her up, a slight wail will escape that tiny diaphragm but mostly you’re just sort of looking on awkwardly and stroking his and her back, perhaps offering a juice box. You weren’t good at comforting your sobbing peers when you were 13, and you’re sadly no better now.

(photo: tlong)

4. The follow you around and scream

toddler tantrum 4

You’ll give your kid this, he or she is INSISTENT. You say “no” and exit the room only to look down and see your son or daughter accosting you with sloppy tears and a red face. And on to the next room, and the next. If you were moving only a slightly bit faster, this could constitute chasing. You’re suddenly looking at the prices of multiple baby gates when times get tough but then thinking that this may be a good life skill should your child be denied a raise in his or her adult life.

(photo:  Kevin D. Hendricks)

5. The stand and scream all alone

toddler tantrum 5

While the sound is instantly alarming, the visual is always hilarious. But you have done your best to smother your giggles and look away when cracking a smile, as your mommy guilt knows that laughter during a meltdown of such massive proportions could guarantee at least five years worth of future therapy. Maybe seven. At least you’ll always find out quick if the kid gets lost.

(photo: gemsling)

6. The blubber and roll

toddler tantrum 6

Sometimes this may follow a full on bomb, or act as an interlude to the floor mumbling, but nevertheless, this can be worked around. You’ve watched TV over this soundtrack, or worked on the computer to it, or even half-heartedly dealt with it by way of “Shuush, shuushh, it’s OK.” It’s the kind of low registering tantrum on the tantrum meter (an orange or so) that has you on alert but not exactly running for cover.

(photo: LizaWasHere)