Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fussy Toddlers: The Tantrum - Adventures in Parenting

Our little baby, K, is growing so fast.  She learns new things every day, most of them are a wonder to watch; however, one particular behavior she has adopted is definitely less than wonderful to us.  Baby K is an expert at throwing tantrums and her prowess for "pitching a fit" as we say here in the South is second to none.  My husband had recently been traveling for business and was gone quite a bit over the last few weeks and I was finding myself frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day.  All the rest of us had come down with the flu and the fussiness just seemed to stick around after that.  At first, I just thought baby K's residual fussiness was just a part of the flu recovery with it's running nose and cough that all of us currently have.  However, her propensity to fuss started before that.

     As a sometimes harried and busy Mom, my plate was full and I had inadvertently gone into baby pacification mode, thinking this was just a phase or a passing behavior.  Baby K has been my "easy" baby and surely she couldn't be manipulating me in this manner; she is just too cute for that....or could she?  All of my children hit a growth spurt right around the 15 month mark.  With this growth spurt came the ability to form multi-word sentences consisting of both baby babble and real words.  They have also been able to repeat words we "teach" them.  For me, this growth spurt marks the  transition from being a baby to being a toddler. With this growth spurt, she has also found the ability to gain attention by being "cute" and doing things purely for the reaction from others.

     Recently, my husband had been away for business and upon his return and during our lake vacation, he immediately noticed the increased fussiness in little K.  This fussiness has reared its head in each of our children but at different ages.  Our oldest daughter didn't start in with it until she was right around 2 and our son didn't start until he was well into his 2s.

     Since our other children started trying this behavior at older ages, they each had a greater ability to reason than little K does at her tender age of 16 months.  I know reasoning with someone who is only 2 years old is also not always possible but a child understands more at that age.  To me, 16 months is right on the outer edge of babyhood and I had not thought some sort of disciplinary action such as a time out would have much effect.  My husband thinks otherwise and tried it and it worked.  So, we are going to be implementing this tactic with her.

     Little children are always more prone to having tantrums if they are hungry, tired, overstimulated, or bored so taking measures to avert these situations will also go far in tantrum prevention.  We are currently on vacation and the act of traveling and setting up our household in a different location with an irregular nap schedule has definitely contributed to her increase in tantrums as well as some habits she may have acquired during our flu weeks due to a lack of parental involvement due to sickness.  It will be an interesting time and I am curious to see how trainable she is at this age and if we will be able to successfully shape her behavior away from tantrums and toward better communication in the near future.

    How do you deal with young toddler behavior?  What methods have you found that work best at preventing those tantrums?

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