This month, I’ve been introduced to one of parenting’s greatest joys: the toddler temper tantrum.
I’m not sure what happened. One moment, I had a compliant 15-month old who was all smiles and rasberries. The next moment, I was living with Oscar the Grouch. We had back-arching tantrums, food thrown on the floor, an irritated ‘no’ (or ‘naaaa….naaaa’) to every activity he came across. I took him to the doctor. No sickness. I checked his mouth. No teeth. I watched his sugar intake. That made no difference. I finally concluded that my little man is growing up. As part of that process, he’s asserting his independence in the most vocal way possible.
It’s easy to be down about this stage of parenting. After talking (okay, whingeing) to some friends about the tantrums, I was told that it’s normal for the ‘Terrible Twos’ to occur early, to which I replied, “But they can’t come early; I’m not up to that chapter of my parenting book yet!” The last few weeks, though, have taught me more than any book ever could. I won’t pretend that dealing with a screaming toddler is a spiritually enlightening experience. It isn’t. But the risk of sounding like Miss Psycho Pep Squad, here are some good things about toddler temper tantrums.
Tantrums give you a glimpse into a child’s personality
It took me a while to realise the little man’s tantrums coincided with too many indoor activities. My son just loves being outdoors: rolling in the grass, cruising in the garden, rough-housing with other children. He also responds best to vigorous play. If there was a Love Language called ‘hold me upside down by the ankles and jiggle me up and down till I vomit’, it would be the little man’s. I’m really enjoying getting to know his quirky personality.
Tantrums make parenting interesting
Looking after a toddler isn’t always mentally stimulating. There’s lots of what I call ‘mummy loitering’ in random places, making sure your child doesn’t fall over or electrocute himself while he does goodness knows what. Having said that, disciplining a child is rewarding work. Dealing with the little man’s tantrums was the first time I felt like we had moved beyond the ‘sleep-feed-awake’ stage* and were developing a dynamic relationship. I’m starting to see how I can make a difference in my child’s life. Teaching him to stop touching the heater isn’t just protecting his hands; it’s training him to be self controlled and obedient. It’s exciting, stimulating stuff.
Tantrums test my own patience and selflessness
The closest I’ve ever come to losing my temper was on the change table. In the middle of a tantrum, the little man kicked his pooey nappy all over himself and I nearly lost it. It took all my self-control (plus a lot of deep breathing) to stop myself from yelling at him, yelling at the nappy or just bursting into tears. Tantrums make me realise I’m not as patient or selfless as I think. They push me to be a better person.
Tantrums make me appreciate who God is
I constantly fail as a parent, but the Bible tells me God is the perfect father. He is always patient; always gentle; always loving; always fair. And He always works for the good of those who love Him
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