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.