Yes, they have hit. Big time.

These are not tantrums to “get” something – these episodes are full on meltdowns that seem to be triggered by minor of things. When one of these episodes comes on, it’s as if all coping skill developed in The Girl’s 2 1/2 years go flying out the window.

They have become daily occurrences – sometimes multiple times a day, which has sent both Mom and I scrambling back to the bookshelf and baby/toddler library we have assembled. So far, Mary Sheedy Kurkinca’s book Raising Your Spirited Child has provided the best advice, and the best definition of what might be going on with The Girl, that is “spillover tantrums” caused by emotional overload.

In a nutshell, once one of the episodes begins, I make sure The Girl isn’t going to hurt herself, stay close but give distance and let them go until they get it out. So far, this advice seems to be working. When one of these episodes comes on, I basically shut up, stay close to The Girl and let it run it’s course.

At first, I tried to pick up or hug The Girl, but she wanted no part of it. So, instead of trying to hold her, I stay with her, but let her take the lead in how much physical contact she wants. I’ve found that, after completely losing it for a few minutes, The Girl eventually calms herself down enough to come over on her own and cuddle in my lap. Once she has calmed down, we talk about what happened.

It’s pretty tough sometimes for me to maintain my cool, but the times I have lost it myself and done things like walk away or get frustrated only make the tantrum worse.

There is, of course, more to Kurkinca’s method than this. And, regardless of whether you have a Spirited Child or not, the book is well worth a read.

4 responses to “Tantrums

  1. shawnâ„¢

    Yeah, my daughter is in the 2 and a half range and the same thing is beginning to happen. Like you said, they are not “to get” something but just good old fashioned “this choo choo is pissing me off!”

    For instance, she has this wooden choo choo set. The cars connect with magnets but the one of the front of one will repell another cars front magnet but will attract its rear magnet. She doesn’t get it. So if she tries to get the cars to stay together in the wrong order they don’t work and BOOM…5 minutes of screaming, crying and throwing.

    For us, the crying and carrying on or easy to cope with. It’s the throwing of the object of her wrath that is the real problem. Any advice?


  2. Yeah, the throwing things in the middle of a tantrum is a tough one. We haven’t had to deal with the throwing+meltdown issue. If The Girl throws, it is usually at other times, which is always met with consequences – usually Mom or I leaving the room, or stopping whatever activity caused the throwing. If she throws Playdough, the Playdough playing stops and the Playdough gets put away.

    One strategy in The Sprited Child book that may come in useful in the future for us is setting down ground rules before the tantrum happens. So, when everyone is in a good mood, have a discussion about what is acceptable and what isn’t during a tantrum. Stamping your feet might be okay, but throwing things isn’t. Saying hurtful things isn’t allowed, but flopping on the bed is. I think, at 2 1/2, it might be a bit beyond my girl right now, but in another year or two, I think I may try that strategy.

  3. wow, you could be describing my teenage daughter!! Unfortunately though the stuff that worked with her as a toddler don’t really work anymore… Although your advice of shut up and let it run its course seems to be the only way to go.

  4. I have a 2 1/2 year old girl who has at least 2 tantrums daily. We are also having night terrors.

    I’m a single mum and I am at my wits end. I’m often frustrated and crying due to these episodes, knowing that there is not a lot I can do but let her out-grow these tantrums