So hey, how do y'all handle tantrums? And I mean full-on, blow-out, breaking windows and peeling paint tantrums?
See, I don't read parenting books anymore because every last one seems designed to make parents feel ineffectual and inferior, and while Mia has certainly had her moments before now, it is only in recent weeks that she has discovered the joys of hard core tantruming. And I'm at an absolute loss.
My usual approach to irrational fits is to distract her with something else. Gosh Mia, I'm so sorry your chair was an inch and a half out of ideal alignment, now let's go make Play-Dough worms. Or even, gee babe, life sure us hard when you are forced to pick up and put away the occasional toy, now who wants a cookie? But lately? Hoo boy.
Let me give you yesterday as an example. We had somewhere to be at 10:30, so I took the kids upstairs to get them dressed. Mia wanted a shirt with a picture on it, so I presented her with her options, she reluctantly chose one, and I went off to try to get Owen down for a nap. Mia then decided she hated her shirt and came to complain to me. I told her to pick a new one and change. That was not acceptable and the screaming started. And I mean screaming of the sort that I half expect the neighbors to call the cops and report me for it. I was stuck with Owen, so it went on for a few minutes. When I went to try to help her she wasn't having it. She didn't want help, didn't want to do it herself, really seemed to just want to sit there and scream. Eventually she moved on from hating all her shirts to hating all her clothes and by the time Chris came to investigate the howling he had heard all the way in the basement she was totally naked and screaming to beat the band.
He got her calmed down and dressed, but five minutes later she was flipping out about the shirt again. We did eventually get her dressed and out the door and she was fine all through our outing, through our trip to the pediatrician, through lunch, through quiet time, after quite time, and then at 3:30 it started all over again. Still about the shirt, still screaming and crying loud enough to pop eardrums. She went on for two hours. Chris and I tried helping her, tried ignoring her, tried everything we could think of. I finally went up to her room, forced her into some clothes and carried her down to her playroom. At which point she calmed down, wiped her nose, and headed off with her Dad to play Legos.
This morning, we had a repeat performance, all about her clothes again. Since it worked yesterday, I just picked something, got her dressed, and told her to deal with it. Which she did, once she realized I was done dealing with it.
But I just don't know. Is that the right thing to do? I know a lot of this is just being three and I think it must be hella frustrating to be three and know and understand and be able to do so much and still be so dependent on adults for everything. And I think she is just trying to have some control and some opinions and some power, and I am trying to let her have those things wherever I can, but I can't have a naked kid screaming in her room all day long.
I'm at a loss. What do you do? What would you do?