The Tantrum Zone

It is a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, you can smell the orange blossoms like perfume in the air. Beautiful. On any other day I would notice all these things as soon as I woke up, but not today. Today I had to strain myself to be mindful of my surroundings. Today I had to force myself to notice the wonderfully beautiful because I’m having a hard time forgetting yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

I’m still in, “The Tantrum Zone.”

The 3-year-old has picked up a nasty bad habit. Throwing temper tantrums. Hubby and I are at our wits end, and please, for the love of all things holy, don’t tell me it’s a completely age appropriate response, blah, blah, blah. No one needs to hear that shit. The only thing that tells me is that everyone with a 3-year-old is going through this too, and sadly, that “normalcy” does not make these outbursts any less horrific. That is not comforting knowledge.

I think what’s getting to me is the frequency of these surges. We are now dealing with this bullshit on a daily basis and lucky for me he’s saving all of these fabulous tantrums for home. He doesn’t pull this crap at school. He doesn’t pitch a fit for the grandparents. Someone told me that children save all their bad behavior for their caregivers as a test of their unconditional love. At this point I would have preferred the AP Algebra exam to his test, and we all know how much I despise math.

Yesterday, when he didn’t want to finish his dinner, we patiently explained to him that he would not be getting desert. This isn’t a new concept, not at all, but he pitched a violent fit that lasted until bedtime and hubby was finally able to stop the run-away-freight-train-that-was-once-my-sweet-baby with the threat of withholding his bedtime story.

I really feel like I’m in an abusive relationship…. WITH MY CHILD. This was not an easy realization to come to and I’m feeling massively guilty about it but let’s face it, that’s what this is. For at least an hour on any given day my child calls me names, throws things, breaks things, yells, cries, screams and then afterwards, when the crazy has left the building, he apologizes to me and wants to be held, tells me he loves me, he’s sorry, and I can’t help but pity him and want to help him and want to choke him all at the same time. If a grown man did this to me I’d find myself in some battered-wife group, sobbing fat tears, drinking marginal coffee and spilling my life story to a group of strangers who are all going through the same thing. If a grown man did this to me I would clock him in the face and leave his ass so fast, he wouldn’t know what hit him.

But we aren’t talking about a grown man here. We are talking about a little boy, my sweet little boy, so instead I feel alone in this. No support group. No therapy. Just me and my child with his ridiculous “age appropriate” temper tantrums. I’m finding it beyond difficult to flip the light-switch between anger and pity when they are over. His emotional state changes on a dime and I’m sitting here holding a grudge. A huge chip on my shoulder where he’s taken away one more small sliver of sanity that I don’t feel I had left to give. That’s when the self-doubt kicks in, when it’s all over and I wonder if there is another way to handle it, but then I remind myself that we’ve tried other ways, many other ways and maybe I just have to let this insanity run it’s course. It’s running it’s course all right.

When I woke up today I was still reeling from his tantrum yesterday, though it’s long forgotten to him already.

Wonder what I’ll feel when I wake up tomorrow.

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8 thoughts on “The Tantrum Zone

  1. Karen Langford says:

    Thanks for the scare of what I have to look forward too!! haha…good luck~ I hope he gets out of this phase quickly for you~

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  2. I am so with you on this. My 3yo is just starting with the tantrums and the flip-flopping personality. Since she’s my third, I know it will end, but it’s so true that in the (endless) moments/minutes/hours of crap, I can’t remember what it’s like to NOT have a small human constantly yelling and freaking out. I’m sorry about the self-doubt: it sucks. The thing I try to do, and it’s really, really hard, is to meet the madness with love — for yourself and the monster. Smiling helps, even when you are crying, even just to yourself. Even if it makes you feel crazier than you already feel.

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  3. My son has this problem. He has always had this problem, as he has PTSD and has always had it. There are some really neat tricks for tantrums, I get great tips from parents of autistic kids or SPD kids.
    If you have a child throwing things at you, I would recommend grabbing their feet and dangling them upside down. For some reason, it just completely resets their system, and mine always laughs. The other thing that works for my son is being wrapped up in a blanket and restrained. I do this every time he is threatening or violent. When he can hear me (in a lull), I remind him that he can come out of his blanket when he is calm, and out of his room when he decides to behave appropriately. So far it is pretty effective, and he loves it when I load on the compliments after making a good decision. That said, I have to switch it up all the time. What worked before always loses it’s effectiveness eventually with him. I used to be able to tickle him every time. That was easy.
    Just keep trying different things. When you need a break, take it. You have my sympathies.

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