Just shy of her turning 18 months old, this weekend Cameron gave us a run for our money. She was testing all sorts of waters and boundaries.
She wanted to go upstairs and we wouldn’t let her, she wanted to move the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and we wouldn’t let her. Then we rigged it so that it wouldn’t move at all and that upset her. The tantrums then started in full force. Tears flowing, snot and drool forming in flood like levels. She was throwing herself back on to the floor and was inconsolable. I thought we had another few months before we saw any traits of her terrible two stage. Apparently she wanted to get a jump on this next phase in life and to keep us on our toes.
Considering this is a new chapter for us as a family I tried to figure out how best to approach the situation. She is still learning and trying to understand what boundaries she can push and what limits we will set for her.
Here’s how we attempted to handle this. First, I let her cry it out. I tried not to raise my voice at her because I knew that would only cause more issues. But I did use my stern “mom” voice when letting her know what she was doing was not ok.
Second, I removed her from the situation. She kept trying to get up the stairs and move the baby gate, so once I was done using my mom voice I would pick her up and move her away from the area. Just so she knew that we were not to play on the stairs. Granted, she kept going back and before we fixed the baby gate she did end up getting up the stairs once or twice. When she succeeded, I knew it was partly because she wasn’t listening, and partly because we didn’t have the baby gate secure so I knew it was not fully her fault so how could I punish her when she was still learning. She did get put in a 2 min timeout where I sat her down and spoke to her about exactly why she was in trouble. I told her I understood that she wanted to go upstairs, that the excitement of being upstairs was fun but she needed to listen to mommy because I just want her to be safe.
Third, we created a distraction. Now, I understand bribing a child isn’t the best way to deal with things, and I wouldn’t call what we did a bribe, but while she was crying and screaming and throwing her tantrum, after removing her from the situation I would sit with her on my lap and try to calm her down and put on one of her favorite shows or movies. Just showing her I was there for her I think diffused the situation a little more quickly.
Now I know that we have more mountains to climb since she’s not quite two yet and I do see more tantrums coming our way, but hopefully learning some more tips will help us be able to handle them if they happen to come about as she is still testing the waters on what she can and can’t do. I want her to have confidence and be independent, but I also want her to learn to listen and be disciplined.