I recorded my daughter having a tantrum.
Originally it was just a ‘let me document this for when you’re older’ purposeful intention.
Then I thought to myself, she’s 3 so how about we attempt to interpret how to manage these emotional outbursts since they seem to be awfully frequent. Some might refer to these as a “toddler tantrum” and said toddler “labelled” as a ‘threenager’. Both would be correct in my opinion.
For those of us empathic parents, witnessing these bursts of emotion, they are truly soul crushing and mortifying. First you’re overwhelmed with the emotional saddness and as time progresses an angry fire starts brewing.
Most tactics say to “ignore” the behaviour. Unfortunately like the saying goes you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. She is a unique, firey little being and I’m sure it’s something we will grow to love about her. In that moment I just wanted it to stop. I wanted to help her, teach her how to cope and for us to coexist in the same space where in that moment I respond with what she needs.
I’ve learnt yelling does not help. No surprise there. Threatening to leave/take something away from her to entice her out of her rage is also no reprieve.
I picked a quiet moment after dinner when we were still sitting at the table. It was just the two of us left and I told her I wanted to show her something.
I pulled out my phone and replayed her tantrum. As the video started her face began to drop and her eyes slowly glazed over. She burst into tears. It was like she had taken herself back to that exact moment and it broke my heart that I had caused her unnecessary pain. She had told me (correction ‘screamed’ at me) she didn’t want me to record her. I didn’t listen but I did the dutiful thing by inserting the disclaimer prior to pressing record that I would in fact be recording her.
She reminded me after the replay she hadn’t wanted me to record her. I did my best to explain to her that I love her with all my heart but I need her to tell me, in that moment what SHE needs from me.
Did she want to be left alone?
Should I have taken her to a quiet place for her to sit?
Did she just need me to hold her and cuddle her?
The last option was what she wanted. It was certainly not my autopilot reaction.
She may not be able to express how she’s feeling in that moment or what brought on this life shattering tantrum but instead of causing more internal trauma for her all I genuinely wanted to know is how I can support her.
It’s one of the reasons I was genuinely scared to birth a girl. Not to categorise or put gender types in a “box” but I feared that females are emotionally complex. Being one myself I can definitely attest to that fact.
She is teaching me so much about myself and I’m hopeful that in turn I am raising emotionally aware little humans. How she deals with her feelings are so different to Jacob but the discovery/getting to the root of the problem side for me is very much the same for both. I prefer to be removed from the scenario when we discuss it to see if their outside perspective can help us both see some kind of reason.
I’m basically a mother feeling into my knowing and trusting my instincts to guide me. Whether they be right or wrong as long as they work for my little family that’s all that matters to me.
It’s a working progress but one thing I am good at is loving them wholeheartedly. We will continue to cuddle out all the tantrums until that tactic no longer works but in time I’m almost certain we’ll get better at communicating our emotions no matter how big or small they are.