17 September 2021, by E-van and Terry
I am sure many parents would experience toddler tantrums in their lifetime.
What caused it? Well, the following reasons could be some of the potential culprits:
- Toddler can’t express their feelings or wants in words
- Toddler had his/her desired object taken away
- Toddler is feeling stress, hungry, tired, scared, worried, etc
- Parent’s reaction (Yes, how we react to a situation can affect the child’s feelings)
Raphael is now coming to 26 months, and his comprehension of things and emotions have started developing at a rapid speed. Most of the time, he can express what he doesn’t want, but not necessarily what he does want. Let me explain…
… hmm, what did he say again?
Raph has started stringing words into sentences, but it is like charades as we have to guess what he is trying to tell us. Once, it was a story of something that happened in school where he said “Etan kwai, eh dey Oh Nohhh!” I roughly made sense of it as “Ethan cried, I said oh no!” So I answered “Oh really? It happened in school?” And he would nod his head with a “hmm!”
Achievement unlocked! I understood him!
The day I flunked toddler listening comprehension
And then, one day, it happened… I couldn’t decipher what he wanted. We had one of the many versions of The Wheels On The Bus song playing, and Raph said “Dowan dis. Ungko wew!” To which I reply “Oh you don’t want to listen to this song? How about The Excavator song?” Tensions then begin to rise, it went on with “I dowan dis! Ungkor wew ungkor wew!”, accompanied by frenzied flailing arms. You can imagine me, frantically flipping through every song that could POSSIBLY be what he wants but to no avail… And with this my friends, we have entered The Zone (aka meltdown, limp body, rolling on the floor, untouchable).
I mean, it is frustrating from his perspective, all you wanted is the same song but in a different version, and your big person is so daft in getting it. It wasn’t until we had the CocoMelon version of The Wheels On the Bus on screen that I realised what “Ungkor Wew” meant…he was describing the bus driver “Uncle Wheel”, oh my goodness!
Snatching “candy” from a toddler
Happy camper Raph managed to climb onto our dining chair, where he sees all these wonderful (dangerous) things we keep away from him. And now that he is meeting them for the first time, it fascinates him, so… in a split second, he grabs the scissors!
I pry it away from his hands slowly (because snatching was a big no-no) “Raph, we cannot play with this. You might hurt yourself”. He responds by holding onto it even tighter and we are in a tug of war and of course, the big person wins. Raph is no longer a happy camper, he gets frustrated and swipes everything off the table while wailing. I move him away from the crime scene and he rolls around crying to vent his anger at this injustice. He has no social media platform to vent his anger unlike us adults, where we can “leave a bad review of mummy” and feel a little better after that.
Social media, the modern-day kampung
I struggled in the beginning and sought help in a parenting group on Facebook, and one parent gave the most useful advice which I have been using ever since:
At the end of the day, I want Raph to know that he can always count on his parents for comfort and will not be shunned away. When he starts swiping things, I would give him pillows and balls to throw and toss as an outlet for him to vent, and seems to work because it doesn’t take long for him to start having fun tossing them!
I’m sure Meltdown City is not going away anytime soon, but accepting that all feelings are valid, and looking at things from Raph’s perspective has helped us understand why he is going through these little tantrums.
So parents who feel lost at their toddler’s tantrums, know that you are not alone and let’s also not forget that we are also creating wonderful memories with our children every day.
By supporting I Love Children through donations, we will be able to continue educating couples on fertility wellness and encourage a children-friendly environment in Singapore. I Love Children is an Institution of Public Character (IPC), you will be eligible for 2.5 times tax deduction for donations of S$100 and above.