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Calling All Toddler Mamas: How Do You Deal with Tantrums?

Aggravation when the dream doesn't go as planned....Every year on my birthday my father asked me the same question as soon as I’d blown out the candles on the cake.

“How does it feel to be six?” he’d say. “Any different than it felt to be five?”

Repeat this process for years and years, and my answer was always No. At least as I’m able to remember it, I never felt much older from one year to the next.

Some changes are subtle, like the flipping of a calendar’s page. For my daughter, though, the transition from year two to year three has been anything but subtle.

Folks, it’s been about as dramatic as Scarlett O’Hara in a dress fashioned from window treatments.

As dramatic as the surprise return of a jilted contestant on The Bachelor.

In other words, we’ve had some drama.

Here’s the thing. This child has heretofore been delightful. Angelic. She’s our little ray of sunshine. Our little apple dumpling.

That is, until she turned three.

It’s not that she’s suddenly a problem child — it’s just that she’s developed an inexplicable habit. Screaming. Loudly. And often. She screams about all kinds of things.

When her shoes annoy her.

When our dogs follow her around the yard.

When her older brother looks out “her window” in the backseat.

It’s like she’s suddenly channeling her inner diva.

I’m not a fan of divas unless I’m paying to see them on stage.

Toddlers are notorious for temper tantrums. It’s practically their calling card. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with when they’re happening in your home.

Or in church.

Or in the Target check-out line.

I try to handle the situation by calmly explaining that we don’t need to scream. Depending on the situation I sometimes pick her up and attempt to soothe her by patting her back and reassuring her. And now that she’s three, I have started to use time-outs when the need arises.

After a tantrum I take her aside and talk to her about why this behavior is not okay. I look for signs of stress or over-tiredness, for hunger or illness. I know all of these things contribute to tantrums. I also know that she’s growing and developing at lightning speed, and that she’s gone through many milestones in a short period of time (the switch to her big girl bed, ditching the pacifier, and the ongoing issue of potty training to name a few).

Since she’s my third I know this is just a stage and I’m trying my hardest to see her through it. But I could sure use your tips.

(And also any herbal tea you may have on hand. And I wouldn’t turn down a new set of ear plugs. Or some type of white noise machine.)

Photo Credit: Loyal O.A.K./Flickr

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

More Posts by Mary Lauren:

Why I’m Excited for My Daughter to Turn Three

Tea for Three: My Daughter’s Third Birthday Party Recap

Toddler Tea Party Inspiration

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