Q&A: post-holiday tantrums

Theresa writes:

"Anyone else have a rough week last week now that the holidays are over? My son (6) was back to school, I was back to the miserable commute, the
babysitter (whom he loves) was back – and by Thursday we were in
full-blown tantrum mode (we haven't been there for a while).  From
Thursday through the rest of the weekend, we had multiple tantrums a
day.  I think the major triggers were interruptions on his time with me
(not so much his dad, who is more of the primary caretaker now that
I've got the commute from hell), but they could also start over being
asked to practice piano, being asked to finish dinner, stuff that is
never usually a problem.

So I'm wondering if this is just a temporary "end of holidays/vacation"
reaction or something more serious.  I'm also wondering how people deal
with tantrums generally.  I'm a bit at my wit's end right now (to the
point where yesterday, I just ended up resorting to pure bribery)."

Oh, what's a little bribery between friends?

Seriously, though, there's all sorts of stuff I never thought I'd do as a parent, including bribery, that I do without a second thought as long as it gets the job done and prevents those ridiculous, out-of-the-blue, sucker-punch tantrums that make you want to throw yourself on your sword.

And, yeah, we've been having some crazytime here Chez Moxie. I'd been attributing it both to the return to "normal" from the winter break and also to the kids having spent several days in a row with either one or the other of their dad and me (usually they see both of us on most days).

Now, I do think some of this with my older one is that he's almost 7, so I'd say definitely go read through the assessments of what being 7 is like in the comments from hedra and Sharon Silver especially.

But I really think it's just trying to get back to a regular routine after a few weeks of everything being different and more relaxed. Whether your child did better or worse with a less structured day, it's still stressful to go back to a routine and school. I think the key is just to stay consistent and calm (as calm as possible) and know that your child will adjust back within the next few weeks.

How has everyone else been doing? This is the second week back for most of us, so I'm imagining that things are settling way back down from last week. How did you get through the shift?

53 thoughts on “Q&A: post-holiday tantrums”

  1. It’s hard to compare what it’s been like for us because we had 2 medical emergencies over the holidays, and now our daughter is sick. But I know from my own childhood that my mom always talked about the “anti-climax.” I guess I was always in a bad/depressed mood after some special event, be it birthday party, overnight visitors, vacation, etc. She managed to help me through it by reminding me that I always felt sad and kind of drifty after something exciting had happened. Even now, as an adult, I am keenly aware of how often my mood takes a plummet after some kind of special/exciting/positive time is over. I think it’s pretty normal. Depending on the age of your children, it might be a good idea to talk to them about how it can be hard to go back to “normal” after so many extraordinary experiences.

  2. We had lots of acting up at school last week (3-6yo mixed age kindergarten in a public Montessori school, my guy is almost 4), including the first call home and visit to the principal. They had been off since Dec 18 and I chalked it up to adjustment.Now, we’re on day 2 of school closure due to the weather and the big brother is off with grandma on a 4 day weekend to see her parents in Florida next week, so… my guy who was reeling as it was is now not going to get his schedule back until February. I’m looking forward to tips/ideas from other commenters since I’m barely wading my way through all of this!

  3. My 19 month old throws a tantrum every time he sees the menorah because he wants to light it. He starts speaking fake Hebrew and wailing. I think he would have gotten over it sooner but we light candles on Friday night for the sabbath. So every Saturday the tantrums start up again because he’ll see where I keep the candlesticks and run over to them . . . it’s actually been kind of funny. He doesn’t care about the presents, just the lights . . .

  4. My kids were both home with one or the other parent (and for many days, both) for a full 15 days in a row over the break. The 5 year old adjusted back to school easily, although we are still dealing with the fallout from letting her watch too much TV over the break (now she begs and begs for it during the week.) The 2 year old has been back at day care since a week ago Tuesday and still shouts at me every morning, “It is not a school day! It is a staying home day!” Last week there was tantruming at getting dressed and into the car, but at this point we are down to spoken (well, shouted, but he’s on a shouting kick) protests and not crying and kicking.It sure makes a WOH mom feel like crap, I tell you. Especially when he stops shouting and says in his sweetest voice, “I want to stay home with YOU.”

  5. Oh, do I hear you. IME, it was hard for my daughter when her routine was interrupted as a little thing…. as an older kid (she’s 5), it’s worse when I interrupt the routine for an extended period or merrymaking and then come back to it. It’s hard on us all. Seriously, most every mom I know was having a rotten time of it last week.As far as dealing with tantrums — my daughter understands that she can tantrum, but that she may not do it in front of us. When she starts that, we pick her up and deposit her in her bed, with instructions that she can come back down when she’s ready to be pleasant, and if she tries to leave the room I stand there and hold the door shut. I do it as matter-of-factly as possible, showing as little emotion as possible (of course, sometimes I’m at my wit’s end and it shows), to avoid reinforcing the idea that tantruming is a great way to push my buttons.
    This has really worked — just yesterday there was a tantrum over her behavior while I was on the phone (hanging all over me, demanding that I get off, etc.). Later I was on the phone again, and again she wanted my attention, but instead she chose to come over and hold my hand.
    This of course is no help if the tantrum is occurring in a public place. But at home, it accomplishes two things — teaches the kid that tantruming will not result in what they want, removes a potentially reinforcing audience from the tantrum, and helps them learn control over the emotions. Even more importantly, it’s much easier for the parents to deal with a tantrum if it’s happening in another room 🙂

  6. I had two weeks off over the holidays, so my 2.5 year old and I got to spend tons of time together. Routines were thrown off, sleep was thrown off, days with grandmom were thrown off. Oh, and did I mention he’s dropping his nap at the moment? It’s been tantrums galore with lots of whining on top. The best thing for us has been sticking to routine, expecting tantrums at anytime, and validating the tantrums while they are going. Who would have thought that saying, “It’s ok to cry. I understand that you are tired and upset” would work so well at getting the crying to stop.I’ve also been trying to get more sleep myself so that I have a little more energy and patience with him when he does go off.

  7. OMG. It’s been awful, and it’s been made worse by the fact that my son’s birthday was last weekend, and because I’m currently on crutches and am not the most imposing authority figure. He just turned 6, and he really impressed me yesterday with his self-awareness. He was working on some papers that had been sent home from school because he hadn’t finished them there, and he turned to me and said, “I think this has been my worst week at school ever.””I think you’re right,” I said, “it’s probably because of all the disruptions of the holidays and your birthday and all that time off school.”
    “I think it’s because I’ve been playing too much Wii.” (!!!!!)
    We agreed that in future, he should limit his Wii-playing to no more than an hour at a time.
    Six is awesome. Don’t tell me 7’s going to be bad. I can’t bear the thought right now.

  8. My son is not quite 2 and has only had a couple of full-blown tantrums thus far but he has lots of little “flare ups” over small things. I know more big tantrums are on our horizon so I will be reading all the comments closely. I’d love to read lots of ideas on:- how you handle tantrums (and how/if your handling of them varies with age of the child)
    – if you have more than 1 child, did you approach things differently depending on the personalities of your children?
    – thoughts on the ‘come close and have your bad feelings validated’ vs. the ‘express your feelings on your own and come out with us once you are ready to be pleasant’ schools of thought? (both of which I think can be perfectly valid).
    I’m all ears!

  9. Oh, thank God for this post! We took 22-month-old out to visit family for 2 weeks at the holidays, and since then we’ve all been a little messed up. He cries at gym daycare (like, to the point where they have to come get me), which never happened before. And also I think we’re STILL on west coast time because we can’t get it together to go anywhere.@enupoo, I totally agree about winter! We’re rocking the sub-zero temps for the second day in a row, and I don’t know what to do because the boy is literally climbing all over me! Oh and just to tie it to another thread, I have bad PMS. Thanks to those who recommended evening primrose oil, though.

  10. I think it’s important too for us to realize (at least this is true for me) that it’s also an adjustment for me to back at work, have a new year, etc. I think sometimes (again, maybe just me) we expect too much from our kids when things are different from the way they normally are. So maybe just more patience with everyone, ourselves and them, is really the best way to handle it. And reminding ourselves that this too shall pass.

  11. Transitions of any kind are hard. I wrote a blog on it last summer because we were experiencing the rough spots along with some friends of ours. Here’s the blog with some tips that may be helpful: http://tinyurl.com/a89se3Great tip from jojo to try to get more sleep yourself and to take care of yourself so that you can better handle the transition, and better help your child.
    As a coach and a mom with three elementary aged kids (including a seven-year-old :)), I think it can be comforting to know that these challenges are normal and experienced by many. It helps to keep perspective and to focus on helping the kids, who powerfully experience their emotions and really need our help.
    For more on Children’s Anger and Tantrums:
    http://tinyurl.com/7kflpg
    Coach Nancy
    http://www.myparentingsource.com
    PS. I hear you, enupoo–it is freezing today! I hope you are all managing to stay warm!

  12. You’ll all hate me for saying so, but things have gotten exponentially better with my 2 year old since we got back into our routine. We traveled a ton over the holidays and he had so many relatives clamoring for his attention that I think he’s just SO relieved to be back to the familiar. He’s very sensitive and introverted, you know?I’m sure this will change wildly when he gets older, and starts to associate the holidays with excitement rather than mere disruption! But in the meantime, the unhappy consequence is that I never want to celebrate another holiday or go on another trip. Ever. I hate, hate, hate living far away from family, because now I feel this constant pressure to travel, but it’s very clear to me that it is NOT the best thing for my son.
    I also agree with others who have pointed out the effect of the cold weather. My son’s doing well, but my temper is quite short lately, and I think the cold is the reason why. Spring can’t come soon enough.

  13. Hannah, I think you totally need to approach things according to the personality of each child. Consistency is consistency, but each individual person needs something a little different, and if you don’t recognize that you’re going to be working harder but not smarter.Which means, also, that you need to be flexible and figure out if your kid is one who needs to be comforted through a tantrum, or one who needs to work it out alone. Much like figuring out if your kid increases or decreases tension by crying, it’s something that can take you a bit to figure out, but once you do, it makes it waaaay easier to deal.
    (If you want a personal example, my older one R is very good at accepting the constraints of a given situation and maximizing his options within what’s available. That means tantrums were mostly about explaining what was possible, and then letting him work it out on his own. My younger one T is just deeply insulted and frustrated not to be able to have any choice available, and needs to have someone validate his feelings of anger and frustration before any other communication ro resolution is possible. If I treated them the same way I’d be doing a bunch of unnecessary stuff for R, and I’d just be squashing T’s feelings down and making him more and more angry instead of letting him tap into it and then let it go.)
    Good luck. If you can get enough sleep you can stay on top of this phase.

  14. Oh yeah. Last week was a rough one for Pumpkin (21 months) at day care. But the teachers said it was for most of the kids. They’d been out for a week and a half, and the routine was thoroughly disrupted. We made things worse by flying to Hawaii for Christmas and meeting BOTH sets of grandparents and my sister. Pumpkin went from being the center of attention for several adoring adults to being one of 8 kids sharing the attention of two teachers. I can see why that would be hard. She tantrumed at drop off, starting biting again (after not doing it for months), had crying jags. And to top it all off, her sleep was horrible.Things are back to normal this week.

  15. Wow, it is so good to hear that it isn’t just me!We’ve had a rough couple weeks. Instead of just taking the time off at Christmas we were still doing the normal routine some days, and then doing exciting things other days, on top of houseguests, and illnesses, and sleepovers with grandparents. Now we’re back to the “normal” routine, except that my husband started a new job, I had a really bad cold (that I’ve now passed along to my husband).
    E is 26 months old, over the holidays she’s moved from her crib to a regular bed (her choice), and seems to be phasing out her nap (which makes me so sad…I love nap-time!). Also she’s suddenly having a lot of trouble going to sleep at night, and waking up in the middle of the night (I blame the disruption over Christmas, and the fact that I let her sleep in my bed a few times because it seemed like the best plan at the time…it just turns out that co-sleeping doesn’t work for us, no matter how much I’d like it to). So we’ve got a tired, grumpy toddler who would really like every day to be Saturday, a tired grumpy mom who is under a lot of grad-school stress (big presentation in a couple weeks that I’m totally not ready for, taking a class for the first time in a couple years, lots of new stuff I’m trying to wrap my head around), and dad who is just starting a new job which is simultaneously exciting and draining. It shouldn’t surprise me that there are tantrums going on and that I’m having trouble dealing with them…but yesterday I really wanted to quit. I want to spend a week on the sofa, with a stack of good books, sleeping whenever I want to, with someone around to do all the cooking, cleaning and provide backrubs on demand. I suspect that it will be 20 years before I manage to pull this one off…but it doesn’t really hurt to dream does it?
    Have to agree with everyone who has mentioned the weather. Not being able to play outside really sucks. E starts crying as soon as we leave the house because it is cold & windy and she hates it. This morning we waited 30 minutes outside for a bus which never came…I had to wrap her hands in my scarf they got so cold 🙁 Daycare was awesome though, they took her to the kitchen to get a special snack made even though we’d missed snack time.

  16. Thank you for posting this! At the end of last week (the first week back to preschool) my kid BIT another kid, poked a kid with a stick, and pushed another down some stairs — way, way, way out of character. I spent last weekend worrying we had made some serious error in parenting, but this week has been back to normal (knock on wood). Moxie’s explanation makes me feel much better about what happened last week.

  17. Relatively painlessly. There was at least one person sick everyday during the 2 weeks we had off, including myself and dad down with the Australian ( wish It had been Hugh Jackson and not the flu), and the kids with a severe bout of diarrhea. Not a lot of excitment in our house those weeks, so the transition went well. Oh, and on the last day of the hols (jan 6) we had a blizzard and kinder were closed for 3 days, so Noah got a full 3 weeks at home. Couldn’t wait to get rid of him. Recently he has been running around like a hamster on a wheel and I know the poor child just needs a few hours outside to wear him out, but what with the snow and everything else, it was not possible. He settled back nicely and kinder seems to have plum tuckered him out, so less hamstering in the house.

  18. Same here, not so much with the tantrums but with finding our routine again… To make matters worse, we all got terribly sick (a visit to the doctors), the clothes dryer and dishwasher when on the fritz and one of my parents had to go to the hospital due to a critical illness! Fun times! We also had ten people in our house over the holidays, so finding ourselves home alone and back to our “routine” was not easy… I’d say the start of the week was quite depressing with the post holiday let down, the worry about my parents and just the sheer quietness in the house (you;d think after a month of guests, I’d be happy!)…However after a week of trial and error, we’re back on our feet…Feeling up as opposed to down…Glad to see that I’m not alone…

  19. “thoughts on the ‘come close and have your bad feelings validated’ vs. the ‘express your feelings on your own and come out with us once you are ready to be pleasant’ schools of thought?”Hannah — for us, it varies with the tantrum, and it’s usually pretty obvious what’s needed depending on the situation. My kid, though, usually has GOT to express those feelings before she can calm down — and sometimes, validating the feelings almost makes things worse (i.e., NOTHING makes her madder when she’s tired and tantruming to be told, “Oh, I see you’re so tired, and it’s hard when you’re tired,” for example).
    I think how to handle tantrums also varies with the age of the child. When my daughter was your son’s age, it was more possible to comfort her through a tantrum — after she’d burnt through some of the emotion, we’d have what I used to call the “cuddle & sniffle” phase, where we’d talk through what happened, and validating her feelings was possible. At 5, her (thankfully much rarer) tantrums are more about pushing boundaries and parental buttons, and allowing her to work through the emotions on her own, without an audience (the come out when you can be pleasant method) seems to be the least reinforcing.

  20. Shannon, I feel your pain! We also went away for two weeks, but with our 1 year old. I worked so hard this fall (I was at home full time then) to establish some kind of routine for him and it was going well. The two weeks away destroyed it! He went back to only falling asleep in someone’s arms (thank you, grandpas!), wanting to get up in the middle of the night (thank you, unfamiliar beds!) and throwing tantrums, especially when I won’t let him play with my cell phone or the remote (thank you “fun aunt” who said it’s ok!). We’re slowly getting back into a routine, though it’s different now because I”m back at work two days a week. He’s finally started going to sleep on his own again and is more or less sleeping through the night.Poor little kids, they don’t understand what’s going on. He had mom AND dad at home for 3 whole weeks (we teach at a college, so we get a very generous break), now one or both of us are gone for several hours each day. That’s got to be hard to process when you’re only 1.
    Hang in there, everybody!

  21. I was going to write to Moxie to ask for help! My 23 month old was home for two weeks over the holidays, very sick and clingy the entire time, and getting him back into daycare has been dreadful. He cries at drop off which he hadn’t done since he first started daycare; he’s not eating or sleeping at daycare which he hadn’t done since he first started daycare; and he’s been waking once or twice a night crying which he hadn’t done since he was 4 months old. He comes home cranky and tired, and I’m pretty cranky and tired too. I have no idea what’s going on! He’s also started to hit me. Not really aggressively but more acting out / testing boundaries. It’s horrible. He used to be so sweet.

  22. Yes! We tried very hard to keep some sort of routine over the holidays (both of us were off of work for almost 2 weeks) by having him continue to go to daycare (albeit on a shortened schedule) most days.If I had kept him home that entire time, it would have been *hell* going back. We visited family for a long weekend, and going from constant attention and roughhousing with his older cousins back to our quiet house was pretty craptastic.
    I’m hopeful next week will be better. And winter HAS to go away. Like now. Seriously.

  23. Huh, Shelley, that’s really interestingNOTHING makes her madder when she’s tired and tantruming to be told, “Oh, I see you’re so tired, and it’s hard when you’re tired,” for example
    I wonder if it’s that you’re validating your assessment of the situation rather than her immediate emotions? Mouse is similar in that respect and will yell BACK “this is NOT about tired, I am mad about XXXX”…I remember doing the same in a somewhat more reasonable tone–I am NOT hungry, I am furious that you made me a haircut appointment–even when I was 12 or 13. Just a thought.
    On the main question, yes, we had a rough week last week–Mouse’s school had been out since Dec. 10 and we’d been cooped up in houses a lot over the break, so she actually seemed worn out by school, which is usually not the case. Seems to be getting better.

  24. I wouldn’t say tantrum, necessarily, for our little guy who’s 7 months. But man, what is up with the post-holiday nap schedule?! It’s another one of those pull-your-hair-out-no-rhyme-or-reason type schedule / ease of putting him down for a nap.Took 45 minutes of him screaming & for me to put him down for his am nap today at 8:30. Usually, it takes me 5 minutes (no screaming), and it’s generally the most consistent / easy nap of the day (and has been since he was 2 mos). And then (AND THEN!) he slept for all of 15 minutes. Fifteen $)#!% minutes! He used to consistently sleep for TWO HOURS.
    I realize we’ve been pretty lucky with the little guy as many people have these problems all.the.time (or at least more frequently). But it’s amazing how quickly it gets under my skin.
    We’ve been back at the regular schedule for the last 2 weeks, and overall it’s better for everyone (especially Mommy). Holidays weren’t that different, except Daddy was home all day for 10 days. But please don’t tell me we’re at another fussy stage where the nap schedule goes completely out the window. It feels like we just got over the last nap schedule mess-up.
    The upside is he’s now sleeping through the night without a feeding. Five or six hours of sleep in a row is a very good thing.

  25. Charisse, I know it sounds nuts — but when a tantrum is in full swing, for my daughter even a basic validation like, “you’re really mad, I can see you’re really mad” is like pouring gasoline on a fire. I find that she has GOT to burn through the emotion before she is open to validation of her feelings (and is capable of telling me more about those feelings, which is a big piece of it).We’re able to divert or prevent tantrums through validating her feelings — different thing entirely — but once one starts it’s like a brush fire that has to burn out.

  26. Oh man, the first week back was rough. I found not so much for the 2yo (almost 3, but I just couldn’t type it), but for the kindergartener..oh mama, was it bad. It was like the first 2 weeks of K all over again. She was exhausted, and fragile, and melty. Went to school late every single day of the week.What helped me:
    -remembering how very bad the first few weeks of K were, and realizing it was a transition, not a permanent personality change
    -food-she really doesn’t eat much at school, and I found that if I gave her dinner right after school (4:00), that really helped her stay sane for the evening
    -cutting back-we basically kept things to school, dinner, bedtime as much as possible, even skipping baths (which can be battlefields on tired nights), just to keep things as simplified as possible.
    She seems to have worked back up to some level of the endurance she had to get through the day, but it makes me wonder if the day is too long (out of the house 8-4).
    Oh, and as far as tantrums and validating vs. ignoring…I think it depends on the kid, and also the tantrum. Are they legitimately dealing with BIG emotions they can’t handle, or are they manipulating. My kids do both. Although the little one, even when offended, wants nothing to do with cuddles or hugs. Wanders around with his bottom lip poking out pathetically.

  27. @SarahI’m sure it’s yet another fussy period as my now 24 month old was doing the same until a week ago. She was sleeping poorly, worse than ever actually, and clingy, but has improved out of sight in the last week or so. Hang in there, you’ll see some improvement soon.

  28. I don’t know if it’s a post-holiday induced thing or not but the eight year old has started complaining of various ailments (headache, stomach ache, dizziness) when it is time to get in bed, get ready for school and has called from school at least twice since we’ve started back. I picked him up early from his after school program yesterday because he told them he had all of the above symptoms and he was sitting with his head on the table when I picked him up and he leaned on me all the way to the car. Somehow, though, by the time we got to LB’s daycare he was well enough to run down the hall to LB’s classroom and managed to eat pizza for dinner and played chase with LB for quite a while before bed. It’s really frustrating because he is committed to the symptoms in the moment but as soon as either a. he no longer has to do what he appears to want to avoid doing or b. finds something fun he wants to do, the symptoms go away. I want to take him seriously, I certainly don’t want an illness to go untreated but the timing and inconsistency makes me wonder what it is really about but he won’t say that there is anything bothering him. Not really sure what to do about it.

  29. I’m wondering about the validation thing. I was reading in ‘Raising an emotionally intelligetnt child’ that it’s not enough to give the emotion a name ( ‘ you’re frustrated’ or ‘you’re angry’) but rather you have to empathise with the way the child is feeling as well ( you’re angry because your brother has run off with your favourite toy, I’d be angry if that happened to me too’)The child then feels he is being really listened to and that his feelings are completely normal as the person he most loves feels them too, and tends to gain control of his feelings faster.I have noticed that my kids aren’t satisfied by simply giving the feeling a name. I tend to get a better reaction from them ( they tend to calm down faster) when I empathise with them. For my kids anyway, that is what makes the difference.

  30. Wow..my first thought was “Normally, he doesn’t have a fit when asked to practice piano?!?!” Really? ….maybe you can send some advice my way, haha.Possibly he was getting a lot more sleep over the break and now his body has to adjust (like ours) to that.
    Good luck!

  31. The Infanta’s more or less fine, it’s me that’s a wreck! January has always sucked for me, and this year it’s worse than it’s been in a long time. I feel on the edge of PPD, and if I weren’t on meds to begin with, it would probably not be merely the edge. I’m planning some coping methods, though, including getting out with other moms more, and insisting that DH do his share of the parenting. Herself seems to be easing out of all-Mommy-all-the-time, so I really need him to pick up the slack and get me some me time for the first time since she was born! Plus, you know, make him do his share of changing diapers and whatnot. ;PIt’s still horrid, though, and I’m having a really hard time asking for help.

  32. “I tend to get a better reaction from them ( they tend to calm down faster) when I empathise with them.”Good point, Paola. This really does help with the big-emotion kind of tantrum, as Chaya named it. In my kid’s case there have been times when it’s worked well once she’s burned through enough emotion to be able to hear me and respond at all. More of her tantrums were like that when she was younger, but now at 5 most of her tantrums are manipulative. I guess this means I’m in for a good time during the teen years, right? 🙂
    Katie B, hang in there… January is a rotten, rotten month when you’re home an infant, especially if you live in a climate where spending time outside is impractical. Your coping strategies sound great, though, (and you might want to check out Moxie’s tips for preventing PPD if you haven’t already). We’re pulling for you.

  33. Well, I’m not having fun this second week of the new year either. I have had 3 FULL days of food poisoning and I’m incredibly weak. DH is bringing me all the standard forms of relief we use in this house and today I can say I’m human again, weak but human-I think! Now DH needs to have a tooth pulled TODAY!As a result of laying here for days, I will spare you all the details, I’ve been doing a lot of of thinking about parents, children and their reactions to each other, and some big shifts have occurred for me that I’m weaving into my work.
    I do want to answer this post, so I’m going to ask for your indulgence as I craft my response. I will post before Sunday.

  34. @mom2boys – I’d be tempted to get him checked out. It might just be that the symptoms are not too severe, and are really worth ignoring when something fun is going on, but they are still severe enough to interfere with doing things that are a bit less fun. But I think it is also worth going the extra step and teaching kids that when we feel sick, especially if the same symptoms keep coming up, then we go see a doctor. If he’s just faking it to get out of doing stuff, then he won’t persist when it involves doing even less fun stuff (like sitting around a doctor’s office).Getting his vision tested also sounds like a great idea. Not being able to see properly can be exhausting.

  35. Oh yeah, it’s been tough for my 4-year-old, too. We did two transitions: from Grandma’s house to home, then from home back to the routine. The first one was the harder one, I think.

  36. this was the kindergartener’s first week back to school, and it was hard, and compounded by this flu thats speading around our family. I had to spend time walking her to her classroom instead of just dropping her off like normal, and we started the reward chart again that was not used during the holidays. There were alot of tantrums though, and I expressed surprise at her because she’d been so cooperative recently …. in otherwords, I tried praise. And then I bribed w/ TV. ;)the preschooler had no issues at all!

  37. @Shannon – “He cries at gym daycare (like, to the point where they have to come get me)..” Oh, honey – me, too! Only DS is *always* like that. Poor little dude. It’s yet another excuse for me to avoid the gym (as if I needed any)!! ;)@Moxie – “I think you totally need to approach things according to the personality of each child… each individual person needs something a little different.” Totally! I wish someone had shared that great piece of advice with my MIL like 40 years ago. I swear, her dogged insistence that she “raised both boys the same and yet they’re just soooo different” is a BIG reason why my BIL is so whacked out & DH has survivor’s guilt.
    @Mom2Boys – From about 1st through 4th grade, I used to play sick & ask to be sent home whenever I was feeling bored & wasn’t being challenged enough at school. Then I could go home and read my dorky books & watch Star Trek… 😉 I also second the idea of getting his vision checked, but word to the wise… since I spent so much time in the nurse’s office, I was able to memorize the eye chart, so I successfully avoided getting glasses until I was old enough to get contacts. Hopefully today’s eye exams are computerized so one can no longer cheat?

  38. Thank god, I thought it was just me. #2 (who is 6.5) has had a terrible two weeks. I took her off red dye during the summer to see if that helped the mood swings she’s been having since about 4 y.o. and she became this angel child. Then when we went back to school after the holidays the bipolar elf returned. *Everything* set her off. I swear I must have asked her 50 times that first week if she’d eaten anything red or pink. Nothing else about our school day routine was different so I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out what has set her off day after day for these two weeks. Her older brother (8.5 years) has had no problems readjusting to the normal routine(nor has #3 who is 1.5), so I’m thinking it must be a combination of the age and the readjustment to normal, hectic life.

  39. just agony and rottenness since back from break for the 3.75 yo and me. made worse by this years break including a week of Grammy and favorite aunt/uncle plus a ski trip plus crazy NW weather which resulted in present opening for the entire 12 days of Christmas, topped off this week with the Cold from Hell and Beyond. I am sick and sick of ‘I don’t LIKE regular days!’ ‘Why CAN’T I eat just candy?’ being thrown up on, refusing to pee, and the sudden rise of stand-up-for-herself-ness that has possessed my child and which under any other conditions I would like to believe I would embrace with good humor.Glad I got THAT off my chest. Geez, do I sound cranky…

  40. @Shelley/Charisse: My daughter (who’s 5 and 3 months) also hates hates *hates* when I name her feelings or try to empathize when she’s tantrumy. When she’s less emotionally overwhelmed it can help to just repeat pretty much verbatim what she’s saying without adding my own names for the feelings. I think she feels heard and validated that way. But in the middle of the explosion – forget it, just like Shelley said, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.My parents were definitely of the ‘talk to me when you’re pleasant’ school, and as a result I spent a lot of time in my room feeling utterly abandoned and learning absolutely nothing about how to manage my emotions, except that the only way to get anybody to pay attention to me was to get over it already, even if I really wasn’t.
    So my tendency is to rush in and try to BE with P when she’s emotional, hold, cuddle, validate, talk about it, empathize, etc. etc. I’m positive I’m overbearing and intrusive about it. Of course either as a result of this tendency or her own natural personality, she often wants none of it. She stomps off, slams her door (even at 3 years old!), tells me to STAY OUT… argh.
    I try to respect her space while being clear and persistent about checking in, letting her know I’m there when she’s ready to come back, and to remain calm – some balance between not letting the world revolve around her hissy fit and not ostracizing her for having and showing feelings.
    I’m saving up for her therapy already.

  41. @ hush – well, last night the headache came back while we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant he was sure wasn’t going to have anything on the menu he wanted to eat. “I just don’t feel good. It hurts so bad right here.” as he rubbed his forehead and brought forth a tear. Thankfully in less than two minutes we were seated and he was happily eating bread and making faces at LB and there was no more mention of a headache for the rest of the night. I really don’t get it and it is driving me up a wall. He doesn’t tantrum. He whines and can negotiate like a high priced attorney but I think when he’s feeling at a dead end, he pulls out the I don’t feel good card. I’m going to take him to get his eyes checked and the next time he feels so unwell he can’t stay at school we will go straight to the doctor to see if she can find anything that might be causing the symptoms.

  42. This is off-topic because it’s not dealing with a tantrum but along the lines of dealing with behaviors based on observation of the child and what that individual child needs – the 16 month old hit me in the face this morning. I don’t think it was on purpose the first time but as soon as he did it I said “no hit” “gentle” and I swear he got a gleam in his eye and proceeded to intentionally hit me in the face. Now it wasn’t very hard and didn’t hurt but I could see where it was headed so I just stood there holding him, no expression on my face and he hit (for lack of a better word, swatted maybe?) me three more times, each time looking me right in the eye and I said nothing, made no change in my expression and then he stopped and turned his attention back to the blanket we had been playing peekaboo with. I suppose if what he had been doing hurt – the way it does when he bites – it wouldn’t have worked. I can’t just let him bite me. He’s drawn blood before. But it was definitely a reaction he was going for. It felt very counter-intuitive to let him keep hitting me. I suppose I could have put him down but then he would have thrown a fit about that and I really just wanted him to stop hitting me. And he did because he just wanted to play with me and I wasn’t playing when he was hitting me and he moved on to the next thing that maybe would get me to play with him.

  43. Mom2boys…it sounds like it worked.At 16 months they are still soo little, if you got him to stop hitting you–mission accomplished. And I so know that gleam..i see it many times a day!

  44. I haven’t read the posts. I’m sure they’ve address how common getting back into the grove is, as well as methods to handle tantrums. What I wanted to address was something else I read in the post. Theresa said, “I’m also wondering how people deal with tantrums generally. I’m a bit at my wit’s end right now (to the point where yesterday, I just ended up resorting to pure bribery).”This post is about feelings, both parent and child’s, how to create limits around feelings so parents don’t go insane. It’s very, very long, sorry about that.
    Tantrums are about unexpressed feelings, both a parent and a child’s. Tantrums create confusion for both parent and child. When a child expresses unedited feelings a parent can feel their heartbeat increase, their resentment or fear rise up, and a collision occurs. At that moment many parents will immediately, unconsciously reach for a punishment, a rule, or a new method they’ve read about and try to use it at full force to stop this right now.
    Let’s be honest here. Adult life is all consuming these days and can produce a great deal of stress, anger and resentment. The problem begins with the fact that the child lives in the present moment not in our stressful world. A young child’s tantrum is really about her inability to clearly express what she’s feeling, so she lets it rip. When a parent uses anger, yelling and punishment to stop a tantrum there’s a cost to a child. The child may begin to swallow their feelings in order to feel safe from the parent’s anger. Our own childhood makes that cycle familiar and most of us don’t want to repeat what was done to us as children—that’s why we read Moxie.
    It becomes important to try not to let a child swallow their feelings because of the rebellion, aka tantrum that will burst forth sooner rather than later. The more a parent pushes to gain control over a child’s feelings the more a child either retreats or uses his tantrums as his form of expression. The job of a parent is to balance the fine line between unloading on a child or guiding a child, and it’s a very fine line.
    You have a right as a parent to have quiet, respect, better behavior, better manners (you get my drift here) when you want/need it. If you, as the parent, do not acknowledge your needs the emotional pressure begins to build until you blow. The same thing is happening with your child. Now you’re in a game of tug of war, you want quiet, the child is upset, you demand quiet, and the child demands to release his feelings, you’re stressed from life and feel as if your needs are not being tended to and your child feels the same way. The child pushes his feelings on you, you blow, he cries, and you yell, sound familiar?
    Is it possible to step back and allow full expression of feelings within the boundaries you set? Yes, it is and that’s where parents will find balance.
    Parenting is instinctual and what works and what doesn’t work can be measured instantly by your parental-guts. You have to ask yourself what rings true for you. What would I want if I were this upset? Think of this in an adult situation. What if you were at the airport and were told you couldn’t get on a flight. Would kindness and patience bring you back to reality or would the anger from the agent just full your fire? It’s the same with wee ones.
    Here’s a kid example. If you say, “there’s no milkshake unless you calm down right now” that’s actually a boundary, not a threat, but only if it’s surrounded by guidance and respect versus anger and punishment. This is the moment when a parent needs to stay silent, pull the plug on the parent-juice (the parent juice description is in any online seminar I offer) the child is receiving during the fight and simply wait. The parent then needs to address both sets of feelings. Maybe by saying, “I know you wanted a triple ice cream sundae and you’re mad that you can’t have one. I’m mad too right now because I have to listen to your screaming.” You have honored both sets of feelings and you’re enforcing the boundary that nothing happens as a tantrum is in full swing. The child will soon see, by your silence, that it’s his responsibility to calm himself before anything goes any further. Now is when you ask yourself what *you’d* want if you were in this situation. If the child continues the tantrum, you’re present with him and can decide what to do next.
    When you use that way of thinking as your goal it means you do not protect your child from their experiences, or force your way of thinking and dealing with situations on them, you stand beside them, allow them to experience the consequences of their actions and help them uncover what they see and feel, it’s how they learn.
    When a child is fully emotional no parent has the time to ask the child to wait as you read up on what to do. And if you just apply a method the way another parent or educator suggests you do without honoring your feelings, the information may feel like you’re putting on a shirt that’s too tight, it’s not a good fit. It doesn’t mean the method or information isn’t perfectly accurate, it just means you have to use your parental instincts and make an adjustment so the method works for your family. Parenting requires knowledge; some new ways to look at parenting can be very helpful but never at the cost of your instincts.
    So what do I suggest as a tantrum begins? The place to focus on is the moment when *you* can’t take it any more. That’s the stopping point, and it occurs a lot sooner than you realize. Honor that moment, tell the truth and take action. At the moment *you* can’t take it anymore or find yourself swallowing your feelings or giving the child another warning is the moment to apply a boundary. Remember a boundary is just a stopping point that can be applied with love, acceptance, empathy and silence, and punishment has an angry controlling aspect to it from the ignored feelings. Using a boundary and honoring feelings is the only thing that prevents/releases the further rush of anger. If you ignore the moment when *you* have had enough it becomes the moment when feelings have been compromised. That’s the moment when a child expects a boundary and if she doesn’t get it she can translate the lack of boundaries into “oh, I have power when I tantrum.”
    The long and short of my rant here is to be where the child is, to handle this in the present. To honor both your feelings of exasperation and his feelings of frustration, or whatever it is. This changes your way of parenting and creates a foundation of trust, and respect that will be used for your entire parenting experience. And yes it begins now at 2 with the first tantrums. All the details and methods I’ve created incorporate these as the Core Principles and show you how to apply them.
    Sorry so long, hope it makes sense, still weirdly weak for the food poisoning.

  45. Reflecting on Sharon’s comment – My kids have come to expect me to set the boundary, and they will cooperate when I set it right – they may still be tantruming, but they’re COOPERATIVE about it (kicking, but not kicking anyone in particular, taking it elsewhere or allowing themselves to be taken elsewhere, allowing me to help them perform the task they don’t want to do).I often slip over the line of when I’ve had enough and into where I’m already angry about having let the line slip – I notice too late. But I can usually get myself back on the correct side of the power curve if I’m paying attention to myself – I can choose to put my upset clearly into the ‘upset at myself for not moving sooner’ box instead of the ‘upset at you for how you’re behaving’. My kids will continue the tantrum but COOPERATE at the same time, when I do that. Miss R does not want to get dressed and is having a tantrum, screaming about it, kicking, throwing the clothes… and I hit the boundary just a bit late, get angry, then re-position my upset to be at myself and not her, and guide her through getting dressed (not punitively – actually, it takes very little physical effort at this point), and she relaxes (while still usually yelling about it) and goes along with getting dressed. The moment my definition of who I’m angry at slips, she locks up and starts fighting the process again. If I stay angry at myself (not her), she can just be upset and not rigid. If I get angry at her, she gets angry right back at me, and locks up.
    Miss M has intense white-hot rages when she gets fully going, and the same is true – for her (right now), I usually have to separate her from the situation, carry her to our bedroom and put her on the bed, where she screams and kicks and wails – but she does NOT try to get down -she cooperates with the action. She wants me to be with her for a while, and at the moment she does not want me to *start* with validating her feelings. I have to start with just sitting there silently, being ‘in’ with her, just present. And again, the moment I forget who I’m angry at (her for being herself at her age, or me for not putting the limit at my own actual limit), she will stop cooperating with the management entirely. I have had to leave the room at times, but she also doesn’t follow me – she chooses to stay in our bed and calm down there. If I slip, she is off like a shot back to the source of the problem, and usually will escalate the problem further.
    So, even when we miss the mark, it is possible to make it work. I just have to keep clearly in mind WHO I’m angry at when a tantrum goes past my boundaries, and really, it’s me. (Granted, I’m not particularly prone to beating myself up, so it won’t set me off in a loop of negativity or depression if I feel angry at myself for not paying attention. I know my skills vary from day to day. It’s life.)
    **ALSO: It is entirely and totally NORMAL for reflection to make the emotional outpouring WORSE. It’s the dam breaking thing – open up the gates and it will RUSH out, quite intense. I had to learn to wait it out, and accept that it would indeed be worse if I empathized. It is also much shorter if I empathize, and they get to an open, welcoming state much more quickly if I empathize as well. I have to be willing to ride the wave, and I have to be comfortable with the idea that it may be *intense*. I have to remind myself that a gush of emotion coming after I’ve created space for that emotion is not ‘me making it worse’ but instead ‘me allowing them to let the entire suppressed content loose at once’. I call it draining a quake lake. (specific example: http://hedra.typepad.com/hands_full_of_rocks/2008/07/draining-the-qu.html )

  46. Good evening. For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.I am from East and also am speaking English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Yatra provides airline reservation flight ticket booking service online.”
    Thank 🙁 Darla.

  47. it sounds like it worked.At 16 months they are still soo little, if you got him to stop hitting you–mission accomplished. And I so know that gleam..i see it many times a day!

  48. Be patient. After your child has calmed down, remind him that you love him and tell him that you’re going to work together to get these emotions under control. That simple way of showing your love can dramatically improve your relationship with your tantrum-prone child.

  49. Be patient. After your child has calmed down, remind him that you love him and tell him that you’re going to work together to get these emotions under control. That simple way of showing your love can dramatically improve your relationship with your tantrum-prone child.

  50. There is a lot of products I never believed I had do as a mother or father, such as bribery, that I do without a second believed provided that it gets the job done and stops those process.

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